Immanis Pecoris Custos, Immanior IPSE The guardian of a terrific beast, himself more terrible.

Now, by 1482, Quasimodo had come to man’s estate, and had been for several years bell-ringer at Notre- Dame, by the grace of his adopted father, Claude Frollo—who had become archdeacon of Josas, by the grace of his liege lord, Louis de Beaumont—who, on the death of Guillaume Chartier in 1472, had become Bishop of Paris, by the grace of his patron, Olivier le Daim, barber to Louis XI, King by the grace of God.

Quasimodo then was bell-ringer of Notre-Dame.

As time went on a certain indescribable bond of intimacy had formed between the bell-ringer and the church. Separated forever from the world by the double fatality of his unknown birth and his actual deformity, imprisoned since his childhood within those two impassable barriers, the unfortunate creature had grown accustomed to taking note of nothing outside the sacred walls which had afforded him a refuge within their shade. Notre-Dame had been to him, as he grew up, successively the egg, the nest, his home, his country, the universe.

Certain it is that there was a sort of mysterious and pre-existent harmony between this being and this edifice. When, as a quite young child, he would drag himself about with many clumsy wrigglings and jerks in the gloom of its arches, he seemed, with his human face and beast-like limbs, the natural reptile of that dark and humid stone floor, on which the shadows of the Roman capitals fell in so many fantastic shapes.

And later, the first time he clutched mechanically at the bell-rope in the tower, clung to it and set the bell in motion, the effect to Claude, his adopted father, was that of a child whose tongue is loosened and begins to talk.

Thus, as his being unfolded itself gradually under the brooding spirit of the Cathedral; as he lived in it, slept in it, rarely went outside its walls, subject every moment to its mysterious influence, he came at last to resemble it, to blend with it and form an integral part of it. His salient angles fitted, so to speak, into the retreating angles of the edifice till he seemed not its inhabitant, but its natural tenant. He might almost be said to have taken on its shape, as the snail does that of its shell. It was his dwelling-place, his strong-hold, his husk. There existed between him and the ancient church so profound an instinctive sympathy, so many material affinities, that, in a way, he adhered to it as a tortoise to his shell. The hoary Cathedral was his carapace.

Needless to say, the reader must not accept literally the similes we are forced to employ in order to express this singular union—symmetrical, direct, consubstantial almost—between a human being and an edifice. Nor is it necessary to describe how minutely familiar he had become with every part of the Cathedral during so long and so absolute an intimacy. This was his own peculiar dwelling-place—no depths in it to which Quasimodo had not penetrated, no heights which he had not scaled. Many a time had he crawled up the sheer face of it with no aid but that afforded by the uneven surface of the sculpture. The towers, over whose surface he might often be seen creeping like a lizard up a perpendicular wall—those two giants, so lofty, so grim, so dangerous—had for him no terrors, no threats of vertigo or falls from giddy heights; to see them so gentle between his hands, so easy to scale, you would have said that he had tamed them. By dint of leaping and climbing, of sportively swinging himself across the abysses of the gigantic Cathedral, he had become in some sort both monkey and chamois, or like the Calabrian child that swims before it can run, whose first play-fellow is the sea.

Moreover, not only his body seemed to have fashioned itself after the Cathedral, but his mind also. In what condition was this soul of his? What impressions had it received, what form had it adopted behind that close-drawn veil, under the influence of that ungentle life, it would be hard to say. Quasimodo had been born halt, humpbacked, half-blind. With infinite troubled and unwearied patience Claude Frollo had succeeded in teaching him to speak. But a fatality seemed to pursue the poor foundling. When, at the age of fourteen, he became a bell-ringer at Notre-Dame, a fresh infirmity descended on him to

  By PanEris using Melati.

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