Notre-Dame de Paris

By Victor Hugo ; Alban Krailsheimer | Go to book overview

IV
AN AWKWARD FRIEND

THAT same night Quasimodo was not asleep. He had just done his last rounds in the church. He had not noticed, as he closed its doors, the archdeacon passing close by him and showing some annoyance when he saw him carefully bolt and padlock the enormous iron armature which made their broad panels as solid as a wall. Dom Claude looked even more preoccupied than usual. Besides, ever since the nocturnal incident in the cell, he had been continually harsh to Quasimodo; but no matter how he abused him, sometimes even striking him, nothing could shake the submissiveness, patience, devoted resignation of the faithful bell-ringer. From the archdeacon he would endure anything, insults, threats, blows, with no murmur of reproach, without complaint. At the very most he would watch anxiously when Dom Claude went up the tower staircase, but the archdeacon had of his own accord refrained from appearing again before the gypsy's eyes.

That night, then, Quasimodo, after glancing at his poor neglected bells, Jacqueline, Marie, Thibault, had gone right up to the top of the north tower, and there, putting down on the leads his firmly closed dark lantern, had begun looking out over Paris. The night, as already mentioned, was extremely dark. Paris which had, so to speak, no lighting at that period, offered to the eye a confused collection of dark masses, broken here and there by the whitish curve of the Seine. The only light that Quasimodo could see was at the window of a distant building, whose vague and sombre profile stood out well above the roof-tops, over towards the Porte Saint-Antoine. There too someone was awake.

While he let his solitary eye drift over this misty, dark horizon, the bell-ringer felt within himself an inexpressible disquiet. For several days now he had been on his guard. He kept seeing, prowling ceaselessly around the church,

-440-

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