The priest thought he could distinguish the outline of Quasimodo. He supposed it could be no one else. He recollected having stumbled, in entering, over a bundle lying across the outside of the door. Yet, as the new–comer uttered no word, he knew not what to think. He seized the arm that held the knife. “Quasimodo!” he cried, forgetting in this moment of danger that Quasimodo was deaf.

In a trice the priest was thrown upon the floor and felt a knee of iron planted on his chest. By the pressure of that knee he recognised the hunchback. But what could he do — how make himself known to the other? Night made the deaf man blind.

He was lost. The girl, pitiless as an enraged tigress, would not interfere to save him. The knife was nearing his head — it was a critical moment. Suddenly his adversary seemed to hesitate. “No blood near her!” he said under his breath.

There was no mistaking — it was Quasimodo’s voice.

On this the priest felt the huge hand dragging him out of the cell by the foot; he was to die outside.

Fortunately for him the moon had just risen. As they crossed the threshold a pale ray fell across the priest’s face. Quasimodo stared at him, a tremor seized him, he relinquished his hold and shrank back.

The gipsy girl, who had stolen to the door, was surprised to see them suddenly change parts; for now it was the priest who threatened and Quasimodo who entreated.

The priest, overwhelming the deaf man with gestures of anger and reproof, motioned vehemently to him to withdraw.

The hunchback hung his head, then went and knelt before the gipsy’s door. “Monseigneur,” he said in firm but resigned tones, “you will do as you think fit afterward, but you will have to kill me first.” So saying, he offered his knife to the priest.

Claude, beside himself with passion, put out his hand to seize it, but the girl was too quick for him. She snatched the knife from Quasimodo and burst into a frantic laugh. “Now come!” she cried to the priest.

She held the blade aloft. The priest faltered — she would most certainly have struck. “You dare not approach me, coward!” she cried. Then she added in a pitiless tone, and knowing well that she was plunging a thousand red–hot irons into the priest’s heart: “Ha! I know that Phœbus is not dead!”

The priest threw Quasimodo to the ground with a furious kick; then, trembling with passion, hurled himself into the darkness of the stair–case.

When he was gone, Quasimodo picked up the whistle which had just been the means of saving the gipsy. “It was getting rusty,” was all he said as he handed it back to her; then he left her to herself.

Overpowered by the violent scene, the girl sank exhausted upon her couch and broke into bitter sobs. Her outlook was becoming sinister once more.

Meanwhile the priest had groped his way back to his cell.

It had come to this — Dom Claude was jealous of Quasimodo. Lost in thought, he repeated his baleful words, “No one shall have her.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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