The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version

5. More About Claude Frollo
In 1482, Quasimodo was about twenty years of age; Claude Frollo, about thirty-
six. One had grown up, the other had grown old.
Claude Frollo was no longer the simple scholar of the college of Torch, the
tender protector of a little child, the young and dreamy philosopher who knew
many things and was ignorant of many. He was a priest, austere, grave, morose;
one charged with souls; monsieur the archdeacon of Josas, the bishop's second
acolyte, having charge of the two deaneries of Montlhéry, and Châteaufort, and
one hundred and seventy-four country curacies. He was an imposing and
sombre personage, before whom the choir boys in alb and in jacket trembled, as
well as the machicots*, and the brothers of Saint-Augustine and the matutinal
clerks of Notre-Dame, when he passed slowly beneath the lofty arches of the
choir, majestic, thoughtful, with arms folded and his head so bent upon his breast
that all one saw of his face was his large, bald brow.
* An official of Notre-Dame, lower than a beneficed clergyman, higher than
simple paid chanters.
Dom Claude Frollo had, however, abandoned neither science nor the education
of his young brother, those two occupations of his life. But as time went on, some
bitterness had been mingled with these things which were so sweet. In the long
run, says Paul Diacre, the best lard turns rancid. Little Jehan Frollo, surnamed
(du Moulin) "of the Mill" because of the place where he had been reared, had not
grown up in the direction which Claude would have liked to impose upon him.
The big brother counted upon a pious, docile, learned, and honorable pupil. But
the little brother, like those young trees which deceive the gardener's hopes and
turn obstinately to the quarter whence they receive sun and air, the little brother
did not grow and did not multiply, but only put forth fine bushy and luxuriant
branches on the side of laziness, ignorance, and debauchery. He was a regular
devil, and a very disorderly one, who made Dom Claude scowl; but very droll and
very subtle, which made the big brother smile.
Claude had confided him to that same college of Torchi where he had passed his
early years in study and meditation; and it was a grief to him that this sanctuary,
formerly edified by the name of Frollo, should to-day be scandalized by it. He
sometimes preached Jehan very long and severe sermons, which the latter
intrepidly endured. After all, the young scapegrace had a good heart, as can be
seen in all comedies. But the sermon over, he none the less tranquilly resumed
his course of seditions and enormities. Now it was a bejaune or yellow beak (as
they called the new arrivals at the university), whom he had been mauling by way
of welcome; a precious tradition which has been carefully preserved to our own
day. Again, he had set in movement a band of scholars, who had flung
themselves upon a wine-shop in classic fashion, quasi classico excitati, had then
beaten the tavern-keeper "with offensive cudgels," and joyously pillaged the
tavern, even to smashing in the hogsheads of wine in the cellar. And then it was
a fine report in Latin, which the sub-monitor of Torchi carried piteously to Dom
Claude with this dolorous marginal comment,--Rixa; prima causa vinum optimum