I don't own Hugo's work, and I'm not quite sure who does, probably thousands of publishers and movie makers... However, I can assure you, it's not me.


The playful sound of a street performer's tambourine floated through the crisp morning air. The academic sighed. His concentration was forever being broken by poor poets, singers, and dancers that clogged the Paris streets, trying to earn a living. Of late, it seemed, they were congregating around the massive cathedral Notre Dame.

The academic returned to his book, trying to find the place where he had left off. Just when he had found his spot, the tambourine's tune changed and became louder. Determined to finish the page, he concentrated harder than ever. Several minuets later, the book once again held the middle-aged man's complete concentration once more. Unfortunately for him, it was not fated to remain that way.

The bells of the church rang loud and clear over the bustling French city. The scholar threw down his tome in exasperation and cursed the bell ringer's punctuality. There was no point in continuing his studies; it appeared it was not a day for gaining wisdom.

With the scholarly mentality gone, he paced around his small room, pondering what to do next. He almost wished his brother would come begging for money. At least it would provide some entertainment for half an hour. He looked out the window, hoping to see the familiar figure of Jehan running toward the cathedral. To his disappointment, his brother was nowhere to be seen.

Casually, the priest changed his direction and looked upwards. The bells had stopped ringing, which could only mean that bell ringer was, more than likely, gazing out at the city from the north tower. Past the stone and the gargoyles, the man could see the twisted form of Quasimodo. Indeed, he was standing up on the tower, but his gaze was fixed on something close to Notre Dame instead of out over the city. Curious as to what commanded all of the hunchback's attention, the priest turned his attention to the plaza.

There was nothing out of the ordinary. Peasants were coming and going, hurriedly completing their tasks, and, of course, there was the gaggle of vagabonds that played and danced in the street. As he examined the people below, a flash of gold caught his attention – it was the tambourine that had distracted him. The girl who held the instrument swirled back and forth in beat with the happy tune she played.

So this woman had captured the attention of his little bell ringer? For a moment, he was disgusted, but the feeling was fleeting. Once he had been a young man plagued with the desires of the flesh. Of course, he had grown out of such humanly and base desires long ago, and he realized that it was more important to serve others than one's self. The hunchback would either come to the same conclusion, or he would doom himself to a lonely and miserable life. The man gave Quasimodo one last look and laughed.

Perhaps he would go visit Quasimodo, but he did despise being near the bells. At the tender age of fourteen, Quasimodo found more pleasure playing the large instruments than studying. At first, his adoptive father had been glad that the poor boy had found something that brought him so much happiness, but then he began to lose his hearing. Knowing that if he pursued his dream he would become totally deaf, Quasimodo continued to toll the bells every day. It was such a shame. The child promised to be an intelligent scholar, much like his step-brother, the priest's younger brother, but all learning had to stop when the boy could hear no more.

This terribly grieved the scholar. He had wanted to fill the child's life with knowledge, but he was happier with the bells. The man sighed. Perhaps he would visit the youth, the priest thought. They both enjoyed the other's company, and over the years the scholar had been able to work out a series of signs to communicate with Quasimodo.

He walked over to the tome that he had dropped and picked it up. As he was about to place it on his desk, the tambourine's shrill notes rang through his cell once more. He glided over to the window, ready to at the curse the vagabond dancer, but when he looked out, he found it hard to be vexed. The girl had drawn a large crowd and was moving at a faster pace with her fans' encouragement. She danced and whirled about, her dark hair reflecting the sun and creating a halo around her head. She looked more angel than human.

For the rest of the morning, the priest observed the tiny dancer from his cell. Even when she was not performing, she intrigued him. The goat that stayed close to her side drew in large amounts from the crowds, too, he noticed. The brilliant white animal was able to do simple tricks that pleased the common folk. But what really attracted people was the gypsy girl. From the moment she picked up her tambourine to the second she set it down, she set a spell on her audience. After her dances, people gave her money and then went about their business, but the priest could not leave his spot near the window.

He had never seen a woman so charming and graceful. The very sun, in all its radiance, seemed to shine brighter when she was dancing. His heart would quicken every time she stood up to dance and calm when she stopped. He wanted to leave his room and be near her, for he was sure that if he saw her close up she would be disappointment, as were all women.

The hesitant priest slowly walked to the ground floor of Notre Dame. As he reached the door, he reprimanded himself for getting so carried away. Just as he was about the walk back upstairs, he heard a crowd cheering for the dancer to entertain them. Full of purpose, he swept outside, eager to stifle any intrigue he felt toward the girl.

No more than two steps out of the church, the priest stopped. Was it possible that the creature could be even lovelier than what he had imagined in his cell? It appeared so. This girl was the most beautiful human the priest had ever laid eyes upon. Archdeacon Claude Frollo felt a sudden longing for the girl; he ran back into the safety of Notre Dame, frightened of his feelings.

The girl had bewitched him.

--

Thanks for reviewing!