The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version
1. Abbas Beati Martini
Dom Claude's fame had spread far and wide. It procured for him, at about the
epoch when he refused to see Madame de Beaujeu, a visit which he long
It was in the evening. He had just retired, after the office, to his canon's cell in the
cloister of Notre-Dame. This cell, with the exception, possibly, of some glass
phials, relegated to a corner, and filled with a decidedly equivocal powder, which
strongly resembled the alchemist's "powder of projection," presented nothing
strange or mysterious. There were, indeed, here and there, some inscriptions on
the walls, but they were pure sentences of learning and piety, extracted from
good authors. The archdeacon had just seated himself, by the light of a three-
jetted copper lamp, before a vast coffer crammed with manuscripts. He had
rested his elbow upon the open volume of Honorius d'Autun, De predestinatione
et libero arbitrio, and he was turning over, in deep meditation, the leaves of a
printed folio which he had just brought, the sole product of the press which his
cell contained. In the midst of his revery there came a knock at his door. "Who's
there?" cried the learned man, in the gracious tone of a famished dog, disturbed
over his bone.
A voice without replied, "Your friend, Jacques Coictier." He went to open the
It was, in fact, the king's physician; a person about fifty years of age, whose
harsh physiognomy was modified only by a crafty eye. Another man
accompanied him. Both wore long slate-colored robes, furred with minever,
girded and closed, with caps of the same stuff and hue. Their hands were
concealed by their sleeves, their feet by their robes, their eyes by their caps.
"God help me, messieurs!" said the archdeacon, showing them in; "I was not
expecting distinguished visitors at such an hour." And while speaking in this
courteous fashion he cast an uneasy and scrutinizing glance from the physician
to his companion.
"'Tis never too late to come and pay a visit to so considerable a learned man as
Dom Claude Frollo de Tirechappe," replied Doctor Coictier, whose Franche-
Comté accent made all his phrases drag along with the majesty of a train-robe.
There then ensued between the physician and the archdeacon one of those
congratulatory prologues which, in accordance with custom, at that epoch
preceded all conversations between learned men, and which did not prevent
them from detesting each other in the most cordial manner in the world.
However, it is the same nowadays; every wise man's mouth complimenting
another wise man is a vase of honeyed gall.
Claude Frollo's felicitations to Jacques Coictier bore reference principally to the
temporal advantages which the worthy physician had found means to extract, in
the course of his much envied career, from each malady of the king, an operation