Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

BOOK SEVENTH.
CHAPTER 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 fašades 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 Claude Frollo had hastily withdrawn the key, and an instant later, he was on the top of the tower, in the gloomy and pensive attitude in which the maidens had seen him.

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.

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