The Classic Tale of Quasimodo’s Bell Ringer

This is an ancient and venerable tale. It can be found occasionally on the Internet, wholly and in parts.

Most people are vaguely familar with the story of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Most, however have not heard the whole tale, now told herein.

Not only did Quasimodo live in the Cathedral Notre Dame, he was responsible for ringing the big tower bell on the hour. Clearly, he had a special technique, because no one else could produce bell tones so pure, so beautiful as could Quasimodo. This unique skill provided job security for over forty years.

By the end of this time, the City Fathers of Paris became worried about Quasimodo’s advancing age and they became even more worried about doing without the wonderful sound from Quasimodo’s bell. Pressure was exerted, and Quasimodo was induced to take on an apprentice and teach him everything he knew.

With his misshapen head and face smiling down on his new apprentice, Quasimodo said that there was a very special technique he used to produce his bell tones. Mostly, it was a matter of timing and he should watch carefully. The two went up into the bell tower, and upon the hour, Quasimodo pulled the rope that moved the giant bell hanging from the ceiling. Then, with perfect timing, Quasimodo thrust his head between the bell clapper and the side of the bell. Modulated by his head between the clapper and bell, the note was very beautiful. That was Quasimodo’s secret.

Having heard the marvelous effect, the apprentice felt that he was ready to try to ring the bell on the next hour. Quasimodo was skeptical, but reluctantly agreed to the trial. Exactly on the hour, the apprentice gave a great pull on the bell rope, then jumped to place his head between clapper and bell. He almost got it right, but his head was turned ninety degrees in the wrong direction and the clapper hit him squarely in the face.

It killed him, of course. But, the bell did sound a note. Not only did the bell ring true, but the sound was beautiful. Not only was it beautiful, it was exquisite. Time stood still for a moment. People all over Paris stopped what they were doing, awed by the sound coming from the Cathedral. Quasimodo was good, but never before had such a magnificent sound graced their ears.

The EMS people were called to treat the poor fellow, but it was too late. They could only haul the body away in the ambulance. “Who is this guy?” asked one of the ambulance attendants.

“I don’t know his name,” said the other, “but his face sure rings a bell.”

The ambulance drivers then delivered the body to storage. One of the morgue attendants asked, “Who is this guy?”

The other answered, “I don’t know, but he’s a dead ringer for Quasimodo.”

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