Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame


Claude Frollo (for we presume that the reader, more intelligent than Phoebus, has seen in this whole adventure no other surly monk than the archdeacon), Claude Frollo groped about for several moments in the dark lair into which the captain had bolted him. It was one of those nooks which architects sometimes reserve at the point of junction between the roof and the supporting wall. A vertical section of this kennel, as Phoebus had so justly styled it, would have made a triangle. Moreover, there was neither window nor air-hole, and the slope of the roof prevented one from standing upright. Accordingly, Claude crouched down in the dust, and the plaster which cracked beneath him; his head was on fire; rummaging around him with his hands, be found on the floor a bit of broken glass, which he pressed to his brow, and whose cool- ness afforded him some relief.

What was taking place at that moment in the gloomy soul of the archdeacon? God and himself could alone know.

In what order was he arranging in his mind la Esmeralda, Phoebus, Jacques Charmolue, his young brother so beloved, yet abandoned by him in the mire, his archdeacon's cassock, his reputation perhaps dragged to la Falourdel's, all these adventures, all these images? I cannot say. But it is certain that these ideas formed in his mind a horrible group.

He had been waiting a quarter of an hour; it seemed to him that he had grown a century older. All at once be heard the creaking of the boards of the stairway; some one was ascending. The trapdoor opened once more; a light reappeared. There was a tolerably large crack in the worm-eaten door of his den; he put his face to it. In this manner he could see all that went on in the adjoining room. The cat-faced old crone was the first to emerge from the trap-door, lamp in hand; then Phoebus, twirling his moustache, then a third person, that beautiful and graceful figure, la Esmeralda. The priest beheld her rise from below like a dazzling apparition. Claude trembled, a cloud spread over his eyes, his pulses beat violently, everything rustled and whirled around him; he no longer saw nor heard anything.

When he recovered himself, Phoebus and Esmeralda were alone seated on the wooden coffer beside the lamp which made these two youthful figures and a miserable pallet at the end of the attic stand out plainly before the archdeacon's eyes.

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