The Curmudgeon


Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre Dame de Paris

Two ghostly figures stood contemplating the smoking ruin: one tall and upright and distinguished, the other somewhat less so.
"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," said Monseigneur Claude Frollo, in his best funereal baritone.
"Half-past vespers, so please your worship," said Quasimodo helpfully.
"Like all the elements, fire has many contradictory aspects," Frollo mused. "The same blaze that warms the hands and burns the witch can also heat the blacksmith's forge and turn base metal into coin or into instruments of spiritual correction. Thus fire can be comforting, virtuous or transformative - but which is it today?"
Quasimodo was silent, looking sadly at the blackened shell, which was surrounded by people in strange scanty dress holding small boxes to their eyes, apparently to contain their grief.
Frollo followed his gaze. "Yes, the tourists will always come. They will come whether the cathedral is rebuilt or not - gargoyles and glass are all very well, but there are few things more poignant than a ruin. As for a Christian ruin, struck down by an act of God in the very week before Easter - with appropriate guidance, it could keep the penitents paying for decades."
Quasimodo gazed at the smoke billowing off into the heavens, where presumably God and His angels were savouring their success. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," he said.
"So much for the material and social aspects," said Frollo. "But we cannot be satisfied with those alone. There must be something more, something to uplift the spirit, something only the Church can provide. Quasimodo," the holy man said, grasping his servant's misshapen shoulder, "Quasimodo, this is a great chance for all we poor soldiers of Christ. We can re-ignite the flame of zeal and burn all Europe with its purifying brand. We must use the opportunity to the full. It will be nothing less than a new crusade. We must gird our loins, steel our resolution, step up to the plate and hang more Gypsies."
"Eh?" said Quasimodo.

with apologies to Victor Hugo


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