The Archdeacon and the bell-ringer found, as we have said before, but little favour with the people, great or small, in the purlieus of the Cathedral. If Claude and Quasimodo went abroad, as occasionally happened, and they were seen in company—the servant following his master—traversing the chilly, narrow, and gloomy streets in the vicinity of Notre-Dame, many an abusive word, many a mocking laugh or opprobrious gibe would harass them on their passage unless Claude Frollo—though this was rare—walked with head erect and haughty bearing, offering a stern and well-nigh imperial front to the startled gaze of his assailants.

The couple shared in the neighbourhood the fate of those poets of whom Régnier says:

“Toutes sortes de gens vont après les poètes,
Comme après les hiboux vont criant les fauvettes.”1

Now some ill-conditioned monkey would risk his skin and bones for the ineffable pleasure of sticking a pin in Quasimodo’s hump, or some pretty wench, with more freedom and impudence than was seemly, would brush the priest’s black robe, thrusting her face into his, while she sang the naughty song beginning:

“Niche, niche, le diable est pris!”2

Anon, a group of squalid old women, crouching in the shade on the steps of a porch, would abuse the Archdeacon and the bell-ringer roundly as they passed, or hurl after them with curses the flattering remark: “There goes one whose soul is like the other one’s body!” Or, another time, it would be a band of scholars playing at marbles or hopscotch who would rise in a body and salute them in classical manner, with some Latin greeting such as “Eia! Eia! Claudius cum claudo!”3

But, as a rule, these amenities passed unheeded by either the priest or the bell-ringer. Quasimodo was too deaf, and Claude too immersed in thought to hear them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.