The Hunchback of Notre Dame HTML version
2. A Priest And A Philosopher Are Two Different Things
The priest whom the young girls had observed at the top of the North tower,
leaning over the Place and so attentive to the dance of the gypsy, was, in fact,
Archdeacon Claude Frollo.
Our readers have not forgotten the mysterious cell which the archdeacon had
reserved for himself in that tower. (I do not know, by the way be it said, whether it
be not the same, the interior of which can be seen to-day through a little square
window, opening to the east at the height of a man above the platform from
which the towers spring; a bare and dilapidated den, whose badly plastered walls
are ornamented here and there, at the present day, with some wretched yellow
engravings representing the façades of cathedrals. I presume that this hole is
jointly inhabited by bats and spiders, and that, consequently, it wages a double
war of extermination on the flies).
Every day, an hour before sunset, the archdeacon ascended the staircase to the
tower, and shut himself up in this cell, where he sometimes passed whole nights.
That day, at the moment when, standing before the low door of his retreat, he
was fitting into the lock the complicated little key which he always carried about
him in the purse suspended to his side, a sound of tambourine and castanets
had reached his ear. These sounds came from the Place du Parvis. The cell, as
we have already said, had only one window opening upon the rear of the church.
Claude Frollo had hastily withdrawn the key, and an instant later, he was on the
top of the tower, in the gloomy and pensive attitude in which the maidens had
There he stood, grave, motionless, absorbed in one look and one thought. All
Paris lay at his feet, with the thousand spires of its edifices and its circular
horizon of gentle hills--with its river winding under its bridges, and its people
moving to and fro through its streets,--with the clouds of its smoke,--with the
mountainous chain of its roofs which presses Notre-Dame in its doubled folds;
but out .of all the city, the archdeacon gazed at one corner only of the pavement,
the Place du Parvis; in all that throng at but one figure,--the gypsy.
It would have been difficult to say what was the nature of this look, and whence
proceeded the flame that flashed from it. It was a fixed gaze, which was,
nevertheless, full of trouble and tumult. And, from the profound immobility of his
whole body, barely agitated at intervals by an involuntary shiver, as a tree is
moved by the wind; from the stiffness of his elbows, more marble than the
balustrade on which they leaned; or the sight of the petrified smile which
contracted his face,-- one would have said that nothing living was left about
Claude Frollo except his eyes.
The gypsy was dancing; she was twirling her tambourine on the tip of her finger,
and tossing it into the air as she danced Provençal sarabands; agile, light,
joyous, and unconscious of the formidable gaze which descended
perpendicularly upon her head.
The crowd was swarming around her; from time to time, a man accoutred in red
and yellow made them form into a circle, and then returned, seated himself on a