The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version

3. Immanis Pecoris Custos, Immanior Ipse
Now, in 1482, Quasimodo had grown up. He had become a few years previously
the bellringer of Notre-Dame, thanks to his father by adoption, Claude Frollo,--
who had become archdeacon of Josas, thanks to his suzerain, Messire Louis de
Beaumont,--who had become Bishop of Paris, at the death of Guillaume Chartier
in 1472, thanks to his patron, Olivier Le Daim, barber to Louis XI., king by the
grace of God.
So Quasimodo was the ringer of the chimes of Notre-Dame.
In the course of time there had been formed a certain peculiarly intimate bond
which united the ringer to the church. Separated forever from the world, by the
double fatality of his unknown birth and his natural deformity, imprisoned from his
infancy in that impassable double circle, the poor wretch had grown used to
seeing nothing in this world beyond the religious walls which had received him
under their shadow. Notre-Dame had been to him successively, as he grew up
and developed, the egg, the nest, the house, the country, the universe.
There was certainly a sort of mysterious and pre-existing harmony between this
creature and this church. When, still a little fellow, he had dragged himself
tortuously and by jerks beneath the shadows of its vaults, he seemed, with his
human face and his bestial limbs, the natural reptile of that humid and sombre
pavement, upon which the shadow of the Romanesque capitals cast so many
strange forms.
Later on, the first time that he caught hold, mechanically, of the ropes to the
towers, and hung suspended from them, and set the bell to clanging, it produced
upon his adopted father, Claude, the effect of a child whose tongue is unloosed
and who begins to speak.
It is thus that, little by little, developing always in sympathy with the cathedral,
living there, sleeping there, hardly ever leaving it, subject every hour to the
mysterious impress, he came to resemble it, he incrusted himself in it, so to
speak, and became an integral part of it. His salient angles fitted into the
retreating angles of the cathedral (if we may be allowed this figure of speech),
and he seemed not only its inhabitant but more than that, its natural tenant. One
might almost say that he had assumed its form, as the snail takes on the form of
its shell. It was his dwelling, his hole, his envelope. There existed between him
and the old church so profound an instinctive sympathy, so many magnetic
affinities, so many material affinities, that he adhered to it somewhat as a tortoise
adheres to its shell. The rough and wrinkled cathedral was his shell.
It is useless to warn the reader not to take literally all the similes which we are
obliged to employ here to express the singular, symmetrical, direct, almost
consubstantial union of a man and an edifice. It is equally unnecessary to state to
what a degree that whole cathedral was familiar to him, after so long and so
intimate a cohabitation. That dwelling was peculiar to him. It had no depths to
which Quasimodo had not penetrated, no height which he had not scaled. He
often climbed many stones up the front, aided solely by the uneven points of the
carving. The towers, on whose exterior surface he was frequently seen