Disclaimer: I do not own the book "Notre Dame De Paris" Victor Hugo does.
This is a rewriting of two particular scene's in Victor Hugo's story the Hunchback of Notre Dame; Or as it was originally called – Notre Dame de Paris.
I've often thought that the poor hunchback was treated unjustly in many ways. But none so cruelly as with the young gypsy Esmeralda. I wanted to revise these scenes so that the poor boy could finally be happy.
Sometimes, in the evening, she heard a voice, concealed beneath the wind screen of the bell tower, singing a sad, strange song, as though to lull her to sleep. The lines were unrhymed, such as a deaf person can make.
*Ne regarde pas la figure, Jeune fille, regarde le coeur. Le coeur d'un beau jeune homme est souvent difforme. Il y a des coeurs ou l'amour ne se conserve pas. Jeune fille, le sapin n'est pas beau, N'est pas beau comme le peuplier, Mais il garde son feuillage l'hiver. Hélas! a quoi bon dire cela? Ce qui n'est pas beau a tort d'être; La beauté n'aime que la beauté, Avril tourne le dos a Janvier. La beauté est parfaite, La beauté peut tout, La beauté est la seule chose qui n'existe pàs a demi. Le corbeau ne vole que le jour, Le hibou ne vole que la nuit, Le cygne vole la nuit et le jour.*
* Look not at the face, young girl, look at the heart. The heart of a handsome young man is often deformed. There are hearts in which love does not keep. Young girl, the pine is not beautiful; it is not beautiful like the poplar, but it keeps its foliage in winter. Alas! What is the use of saying that? That which is not beautiful has no right to exist; beauty loves only beauty; April turns her back on January. Beauty is perfect, beauty can do all things, beauty is the only thing which does not exist by halves. The raven flies only by day, the owl flies only by night, the swan flies by day and by night. *
One morning, on awaking, she saw on her window two vases filled with flowers. One was a very beautiful and very brilliant but cracked vase of glass. It had allowed the water with which it had been filled to escape, and the flowers which it contained were withered. The other was an earthenware pot, coarse and common, but which had preserved all its water, and its flowers remained fresh and crimson.
I know not whether it was done intentionally, but La Esmeralda took the faded nosegay and wore it all day long upon her breast.
That day she did not hear the voice singing in the tower.
My revised part:
Curled up in her semi comfortable cell, Esmeralda was playing with Djali when suddenly she heard the sound of someone singing a soft sad song.
*Look not at the face, young girl, look at the heart. The heart of a handsome young man is often deformed. There are hearts in which love does not keep. Young girl, the pine is not beautiful; it is not beautiful like the poplar, but it keeps its foliage in winter. Alas! What is the use of saying that? That which is not beautiful has no right to exist; beauty loves only beauty; April turns her back on January. Beauty is perfect, beauty can do all things, beauty is the only thing which does not exist by halves. The raven flies only by day, the owl flies only by night, the swan flies by day and by night. *
Realizing that this was the voice of the hunchback she listened to the song with faint interest noting the meaningful lyrics and the melancholy tone of the singer.
By the time the last notes faded away the gypsy girl was thinking hard about the indication of the words, her emotion one of understanding and sympathy, her heart going out to him.
Realizing that all of this time she had misunderstood him she suddenly felt sharp pangs of regret.
She'd never really seen him as anything other than a frightening misfit. A deformed creature who could tear her limb from limb if he so choose. She had often thought he didn't belong with normal folk for he was so very gruesome looking. Even when he had saved her and brought her to a safe place and taken care of her in every way possible she still couldn't see the true good in him that lay so deep beneath the surface just waiting to be noticed by some kind heart. Instead of being wary of him all the time and not fully accepting him as a friend, she should have thanked him a hundred times over for saving her and treated him with the utmost kindness and respect. After he rescued her she should have been able to trust him with her very life. Instead she feared his very presence.
Oh! What a cold, heartless person she was! Who was truly the monster in this twisted tale? Certainly not he who had been so very thoughtful as to offer her his own abode and delivered to her food and water when she was hungry and thirsty. He who would give his very life to make her happy. He who was so very humble, courteous, and, yes, even handsome in his own way. Why she'd give anything to make it up to him for being so thoughtful and to properly repay him for all that he'd done for her.
All she needed was a sign. Any small indication of how she could thank him and repay him for his kindness.
Sighing forlornly the unhappy girl laid down on her side and after a few fitful minutes fell asleep.
A few days later when the girl awoke one morning she spotted on her window two vases filled with flowers.
One of the vases was very beautiful and very brilliant but cracked. It had allowed the water that it had been filled with to escape and the flowers which it contained were withered. The other one was an earthenware pot, coarse and common, but which had preserved all its water, and its flowers remained fresh and crimson.
Remembering the song she had heard days before, Esmeralda resolutely took the beautiful fragrant roses from the earthenware pot and pressed them lovingly against her breast.
On a whim she glanced out the window and spotted the misshapen face silently observing her from one of the towers. As soon as he realized that she had perceived him he disappeared.
She smiled knowingly and tucked the flowers protectively in her pocket.
That night she heard the song again and a rush of relief and contentment flooded through her. She knew she had a dear friend who would look after her and permit her to stay there in the security of the cell for as long as she needed.
And, more importantly, she now had a better perception of him. She knew the person who he was under the deformed visage and loved that being for all that he was.
Maybe one day Phoebus would come for her and take her away to a better place where they could be together for the rest of their days.
That thought made her smile.
She still hadn't given up on him. She never would. One day he would arrive in all his dashing glory and sweep her away.
She was certain of it.
But until that day came she was perfectly content to stay here with her strange, lovable companion and her wonderful pet Djali in peace and tranquility.
For this second scene I'm skipping ahead a bit…okay a lot. Remember when Gringoire came to Esmeralda's cell to take Djali and her away? Remember how he had so cruelly turned against her and saved her goat instead of the girl herself? Well let's pretend for a moment that she did not get that visit. Yes, let's say that he did not come at all. What would have happened then? Well, if you recall, Quasimodo had been fighting what he thought was Esmeralda's enemies and then upon returning to her cell he found her gone.
This is my rewritten tale of what I thought should have happened.
The terrified girl was sitting on her pallet trembling with fear and anxiousness.
Suddenly she heard footsteps approaching her cell and stiffened in terror.
How great was her relief when she identified the form of the hunchback as he stood at the entrance to her cell.
"Oh Quasimodo! I was so scared! Where have you been? Why did you leave me alone?"
The warm pride he had felt just moments ago fled him to be replaced with a feeling of shame and worry.
He should have woken her up and alerted her to what was happening. Why hadn't he thought about how she would feel awaking to the sounds of an ongoing war?
"I'm sorry. I should have woken you and alerted you to what was going on. Forgive me. Please."
Feeling herself calming at the sincere apology in his voice, the gypsy's eyes softened.
"You are forgiven. But what happened? What was going on out there?"
"These people were trying to kidnap and hang you. I defeated them though so there is no more reason to fear now."
This should have calmed the gypsy but instead it did the opposite. She felt her heart racing as a sharp, frantic fear consumed her.
"This is all the fault of that hateful Priest. I am positive this is because of him. Oh, how far will he go to make certain my death?! Where can I go that I will finally be able to have peace? It's not fair that my life is so miserable!"
And she began to sob pitiably while the hunchback looked on helplessly.
He empathized with her – he really did. But what could he do? How could he help this beautiful young girl who was so tragically broken?
And then he had an idea.
It was a rather good one if he did say so himself, but in order to go through with it he would have to ask of the gypsy something which he knew she would not like. It was the only choice he knew though and so he had to try.
More nervous and unsure than he had ever had ever been in his life, the poor boy shifted his feet and lowered his head.
"You could, possibly, run away with me to a safer place."
Feeling more than a little embarrassed, the deformed man was preparing to flee with what was left of his dignity, when the girl at last spoke up.
"After all that I've put you through…you would…leave everything that you've ever known behind for me?
His misshapen head lifted up in a nod, the fiery hair on it flopping about from the movement.
Feeling a happy rush of gratitude fill her the young gypsy replied with an excited, eager energy.
"Yes, I'll go away with you! I have no choice. There is nothing left for me here. If I stay I am sure to be killed. Leaving is the only option. But…where exactly will we go?"
With a huge grin that looked almost frightening, the hunchback replied joyously.
The girl was fine with that.
Quietly they fled the cathedral and sprinted through the square.
An angry mob spotted them and tried to seize the girl, but Quasimodo made sure that they never laid a hand on her. Each one who tried found themselves severely injured or worse.
Luck was on their side for they never encountered Frollo nor did anyone besides the mob try to stop them from leaving.
Eventually, after much running, they found a boat and climbed into it hoping to get away before the angry, love-struck priest perceived them.
Quasimodo, who had never in his life been on a boat, handled the oars with an expert form.
Seeing the anxious, worried look on La Esmeralda's face made the hunchback row with all his might so that they might get away faster.
After a short while – with the help of Quasi's strong arms moving the raft at a neck-break pace through the water – they were actually getting somewhere. Where exactly they were going neither knew, but one thing was certain: From that moment on nothing would ever be the same for them. They would find a new place to live where no one knew who they were and settle down there and live in peace and happiness for the rest of their days.
Never again would either of them have to endure ridicule or cruel mockery because they were different from others. Never again would they experience the cruel injustice that sometimes comes with life or the unreasonable hatred of mankind. Social rejection would be stripped from their life as they found a new town where they would be accepted for who they were.
The future was brighter for both of them and they felt, deep within themselves, an unimaginable amount of happiness that filled them to the brim.
As they floated along, now more slowly, more surely, unknown to either of them they thought the same thing:
"I'm finally free!"