The Hunchback of Notre Dame
4. The Dog And His Master
Nevertheless, there was one human creature whom Quasimodo excepted from
his malice and from his hatred for others, and whom he loved even more,
perhaps, than his cathedral: this was Claude Frollo.
The matter was simple; Claude Frollo had taken him in, had adopted him, had
nourished him, had reared him. When a little lad, it was between Claude Frollo's
legs that he was accustomed to seek refuge, when the dogs and the children
barked after him. Claude Frollo had taught him to talk, to read, to write. Claude
Frollo had finally made him the bellringer. Now, to give the big bell in marriage to
Quasimodo was to give Juliet to Romeo.
Hence Quasimodo's gratitude was profound, passionate, boundless; and
although the visage of his adopted father was often clouded or severe, although
his speech was habitually curt, harsh, imperious, that gratitude never wavered for
a single moment. The archdeacon had in Quasimodo the most submissive slave,
the most docile lackey, the most vigilant of dogs. When the poor bellringer
became deaf, there had been established between him and Claude Frollo, a
language of signs, mysterious and understood by themselves alone. In this
manner the archdeacon was the sole human being with whom Quasimodo had
preserved communication. He was in sympathy with but two things in this world:
Notre- Dame and Claude Frollo.
There is nothing which can be compared with the empire of the archdeacon over
the bellringer; with the attachment of the bellringer for the archdeacon. A sign
from Claude and the idea of giving him pleasure would have sufficed to make
Quasimodo hurl himself headlong from the summit of Notre- Dame. It was a
remarkable thing--all that physical strength which had reached in Quasimodo
such an extraordinary development, and which was placed by him blindly at the
disposition of another. There was in it, no doubt, filial devotion, domestic
attachment; there was also the fascination of one spirit by another spirit. It was a
poor, awkward, and clumsy organization, which stood with lowered head and
supplicating eyes before a lofty and profound, a powerful and superior intellect.
Lastly, and above all, it was gratitude. Gratitude so pushed to its extremest limit,
that we do not know to what to compare it. This virtue is not one of those of
which the finest examples are to be met with among men. We will say then, that
Quasimodo loved the archdeacon as never a dog, never a horse, never an
elephant loved his master.