CHAPTER 5. THE KEY TO THE RED DOOR.
In the meantime, public minor had informed the archdeacon
of the miraculous manner in which the gypsy had been
saved. When he learned it, he knew not what his sensations
were. He had reconciled himself to la Esmeralda's death.
In that matter he was tranquil; he had reached the bottom of
personal suffering. The human heart (Dora Claude had meditated
upon these matters) can contain only a certain quantity
of despair. When the sponge is saturated, the sea may pass
over it without causing a single drop more to enter it.
Now, with la Esmeralda dead, the sponge was soaked, all
was at an end on this earth for Dom Claude. But to feel
that she was alive, and Phoebus also, meant that tortures,
shocks, alternatives, life, were beginning again. And Claude
was weary of all this.
When he heard this news, he shut himself in his cell in the
cloister. He appeared neither at the meetings of the chapter
nor at the services. He closed his door against all, even
against the bishop. He remained thus immured for several
weeks. He was believed to be ill. And so he was, in fact.
What did he do while thus shut up? With what thoughts
was the unfortunate man contending? Was he giving final
battle to his formidable passion? Was he concocting a final
plan of death for her and of perdition for himself?
His Jehan, his cherished brother, his spoiled child, came
once to his door, knocked, swore, entreated, gave his name
half a score of times. Claude did not open.
He passed whole days with his face close to the panes of
his window. From that window, situated in the cloister, he
could see la Esmeralda's chamber. He often saw herself
with her goat, sometimes with Quasimodo. He remarked the
little attentions of the ugly deaf man, his obedience, his
delicate and submissive ways with the gypsy. He recalled,
for he had a good memory, and memory is the tormentor of the
jealous, he recalled the singular look of the bellringer,
bent on the dancer upon a certain evening. He asked himself
what motive could have impelled Quasimodo to save her.
He was the witness of a thousand little scenes between the
gypsy and the deaf man, the pantomime of which, viewed
from afar and commented on by his passion, appeared very
tender to him. He distrusted the capriciousness of women.
Then he felt a jealousy which be could never have believed
possible awakening within him, a jealousy which made him
redden with shame and indignation: "One might condone the
captain, but this one!" This thought upset him.