Victor Marie Hugo (18021885). Notre Dame de Paris.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
IV. The Dog and His Master
THERE was, however, one human being whom Quasimodo excepted from the malice and hatred he felt for the rest of mankind, and whom he loved as much, if not more than his Cathedral: and that was Claude Frollo.
The case was simple enough. Claude Frollo had rescued him, had adopted him, fed him, brought him up. When he was little, it was between Claude Frollos knees that he sought refuge from the children and the dogs that ran yelping after him. Claude Frollo had taught him to speak, to read, to write. Finally, it was Claude Frollo who made him bell-ringer of Notre Dame; and to give the great bell in marriage to Quasimodo was giving Juliet to Romeo.
And in return, Quasimodos gratitude was deep, passionate, and boundless; and although the countenance of his adopted father was often clouded and severe, although his speech was habitually brief, harsh, imperious, never for one single moment did that gratitude falter. In Quasimodo the Archdeacon possessed the most submissive of slaves, the most obedient of servants, the most vigilant of watch-dogs. When the poor bell-ringer became deaf, between him and Claude Frollo there had been established a mysterious language of sings, intelligible to them alone. In this way, then, the Archdeacon was the sole human being with whom Quasimodo had preserved a communication. There were but two things in this world with which he had any connection: Claude Frollo and the Cathedral.
The empire of the Archdeacon over the bell-ringer, and the bell-ringers attachment to the Archdeacon, were absolutely unprecedented. A sign from Claude, or the idea that it would give him a moments pleasure, and Quasimodo would have cheerfully cast himself from the top of Notre Dame. There was something remarkable in all that physical force, so extraordinarily developed in Quasimodo, being placed by him blindly at the disposal of another. In it there was doubtless much filial devotion, of the attachment of the servant; but there was also the fascination exercised by one mind over another; it was a poor, feeble, awkward organism standing with bent head and supplicating eyes in the presence of a lofty, penetrating, and commanding intellect. Finally, and before all things, it was gratitudegratitude pushed to such extreme limits that we should be at a loss for a comparison. That virtue is not one of those of which the brightest examples are to be found in man. Let us then say that Quasimodo loved the Archdeacon as never dog, never horse, never elephant loved his master.