Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

IV
THE DOG AND HIS MASTER

THERE was, however, one human being whom Quasimodo excepted from his malice and hatred for the rest, and whom he loved as much as his cathedral, and perhaps even more. That was Claude Frollo.

It was quite simple. Claude Frollo had taken him in, adopted him, fed him, brought him up. While he was still a small child it was by Claude Frollo's legs that he would take refuge when dogs and children snarled at him. Claude Frollo had taught him to talk, read, write. Claude Frollo finally had made him a bell-ringer. Now, giving the great bell in marriage to Quasimodo was like giving Juliet to Romeo.

Thus Quasimodo's gratitude was deep, passionate, unbounded; and although his adoptive father's face was often stern and overcast, although his speech was habitually curt, harsh, imperious, that gratitude had never faltered for a moment. In Quasimodo the archdeacon had the most obedient of slaves, the most docile of servants, the most vigilant of watchdogs. When the poor bell-ringer had gone deaf there was established between him and Claude Frollo a mysterious sign language understood by them alone. In that way the archdeacon was the only human being with whom Quasimodo had maintained communication. He was in touch with only two things in the world, Notre-Dame and Claude Frollo.

The power of the archdeacon over the bell-ringer, the bell-ringer's attachment to the archdeacon defy comparison. A sign from Claude, and the idea of pleasing him, would have been enough to make Quasimodo throw himself off the top of the towers of Notre-Dame. It was quite remarkable that with all that physical strength, developed to such an extraordinary degree, Quasimodo should have blindly put it at the disposal of another. There was in this no doubt filial devotion, domestic attachment; there was

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