Over a midnight supper of cheese, fruit, bread, and wine, I recounted,
to Claude, Francois's alibi, and of the student's current romance. I also
told him of Jeannette, who helped with Francois's 'jailbreak'. It was while
we wound our way through the Palais secret passageway, that Jeannette confessed
discovering that lever underneath the plant stand.
"She replaced the key, just as it was, Claude. It was Gerard who caught her, but he remained in your study long enough..."
Claude nodded between bites then said bitterly, "Long enough to find that key, then put Rene's plan in motion." He sighed, poured for himself another glass of wine, then continued his assessments of Francois and Jeannette. "They are a good match -- They both share...well...let us say those youngsters are like 'two peas in a pod'."
He allowed himself to laugh, then told me he hoped all was well with Iggy. "Daniel Mc Mullen is presently with Gerard. In time, I hope he'll catch up with Rene Robinette, and that box!"
But, I mentioned to Claude, as I helped myself to more bread, if I should make a few time trips, and possibly uncover what really happened to Theodora's box. Claude smiled, replying, "My love, that won't be necessary. You are aware of 'changing the outcome'." He paused to kiss my fingertips than explained that he had it all covered. Claude revealed that, while he was visiting my father, in my time, he had contacted Fern, and requested that SHE make a few time trips in regards to the mystery surrounding the box. Of course, I understood this and expressed hope that Fern would uncover something important. And that's exactly what she did when she sent a message via the pager.
"My goodness!," Claude said as I flipped open my pager, "Our woman in time works truly fast!"
"Um hm", I replied, "And wait till you read this report!"
I just got back from 1945 England, and 1948 California, and you guys aren't going to believe what I found out! That Marvin Emswiller was some character...The stuff he pulled just to get his greedy paws on that box...But the real story is what the theft means to Claude and his friendship with Andre and Etienne...Claude, we really must reconsider 'changing outcomes' on this one...This situation demands some minor alterations. Nisha, aren't you glad you took that snapshot of the box? I know Claude's happy that us 20th Century folks are around to save his neck! I have to drive Dwayne to the airport in the morning; afterwards, I'll be there as soon as possible. Tell Iggy I love him and there's no hard feelings. This little scheme just might forever change his life. See you all tomorrow.
"Well, well," Claude flatly said, after rereading the message, "Fern
has uncovered implications for me, for my friends. But this Emswiller person...It
was his actions that ultimately caused Daniel's expulsion."
I got up from the table, put my arms around Claude's shoulders, and tenderly said, "Emswiller must have had a real reason for bringing that box to America. And he had his reasons for keeping Iggy and Cissy apart..."
Claude arose from the table, took me in his arms and kissed me. He then reassured me that Fern was right: "Daniel and his ladylove may well reunite after all this, my dear." Claude's mouth broadened into a smile when he added, "For your information, I've already contacted Jacqueline. She is to locate Mlle. Cissy Emswiller, perhaps uncover more of this mystery."
He kissed me again, led me upstairs, finally saying that, "Daniel will come through for me, for I can feel it."
I hope so...But what if Iggy screws up...He's not stupid, but there's
always a chance hs cover will be blown...Then what?
"Claude, let us hope Iggy will crack this case, and bring home a couple of nasty thieves."
Iggy looked over the box. "May I?", he asked with his hand extended.
Rene nodded and handed the box to Iggy. Without saying a word, Iggy examined
the box close-up. Even in the dim light, he could see the sparkle of gemstones
and the gleam of fine gold. He was about the lift the lid when an idea
came to him.
Iggy turned to Gerard and Rene, saying to both, "Hey, man! I hope no one's followed you down here. You know this town's full of all KINDS of dishonest types...HEY! Who's that coming up behind you?"
When men turned around, Iggy saw his chance. Rene laughed, turned to face Iggy, saying, "There's no one following us....You! Come back here!"
Before Rene or Gerard could act, Iggy had the box and was presently tearing out of the alley. He was gone! The funny little man with the strange name was gone, and he had the box!
Rene panicked because he knew that his plan to ruin Frollo had been foiled. But, after a few seconds, a slight smile spread across Rene Robinette's face. "No, Gerard, all is not lost, for Frollo had yet to produce the box. For all practical purposes, the box is still missing, Francois Patou will still hang for theft, and..."
Gerard, who was rather puzzled by all this, suddenly realized the true
identity of that strange man. "Rene! That man's real name is "Iggy". I
know because I saw him at Notre Dame Saturday morning!"
Rene Robinette immediately raged that when he got his hands on 'M. Goode', "He will regret that day he double-crossed me! Now, Gerard, where is this man staying?"
"He's with the former Captain Phoebus, out at Andre d'Arcy's place."
Rene grimaced. "Then that's where he's going, and where he'll meet us! Come Gerard! To Chateau d'Arcy!"
Beep, Beep! Beep, Beep!
I was aroused from a deep slumber when I heard the familiar beeping of my pager. Claude was presently dreaming away and I really didn't want to disturb his sleep. Nah, let him sleep...He's exhausted...maybe it's Fern, maybe it's Jacki...She probably found out some things from Cissy Emswiller...
But it wasn't MY pager that was beeping, but Claude's. It has to be crucial information or else no one would dare contact my baby at such a ridiculous hour...
"Claude, Claude," I softly said as I gently shook him from his deep
slumber. "Sugarbritches, your...ahem...'britches' are calling you!" To
this Claude laughed; then, forcing himself fully awake, reached inside
his pocket and removed his pager. "Darling, could you light that candle?"
He sat up in bed while I lit the bedside candlestick. I also reached for
my flashlight in case he needed more light.
And he did need more light as he said to me, "Aim that beam over the screen, my love, for I can't believe what I'm reading!"
Claude sat up again while I held onto him and stroked his soft gray hair. He handed his pager to me, saying, "It's Daniel. He has the box, and he's heading back to Chateau d'Arcy."
When I read that message...
Your Honor (and Nisha)
I have the box. I took it from that Robinette dude and Gerard. I'm heading back to the estate where I'm putting this treasure in a very safe place, Those guys will never find it. Come on out and the box is all yours. Later, dude and dudette. I'm gone.
Oh yeah...Iggy did it all right! But why isn't Claude all that upset?
Indeed, Claude Frollo's expression changed when he reread Iggy's message. He arose from the bed and began to dress, saying, "Nisha, my dear, I'm so glad to have you in my life. Without you...well...without your, and Fern's, help, I would never catch those thieving vermin!"
"But Claude, what's this all about? What have I done? And where are you going?"
Claude smiled as he adjusted the belt on his black doublet. "I'm heading back to the Palais, where a certain footman is about to meet the business end of my rack." He turned to me and kissed me with such passion and gratitude. "My dear, later on today, I want you to go out to Chateau d'Arcy; check on Daniel. Tell him I'll a special reward for him once the box is safely returned, and those thieves are safely behind bars."
After Claude left I began to think that this was all a...
Yeah! That's why Claude wasn't so concerned...What exactly did I do? All I did was take a...THAT'S IT!! It can only be it! Hey, let me get dressed. I don't care if it's almost 4 am! I gotta head out to Chateau d'Arcy and tell Iggy all this good news...And check on Phoebus. I wonder how he's doing since his big comedown? No matter...
I hastily donned an old, long black calico dress that made me look more
like a Black Dr. Quinn than a stylish Parisian. With flashlight in hand,
I made it out to the stable behind my Paris house and hitched that 19th
Century buggy to Bluebell
Who's Bluebell? She was MY new Morgan horse, given to me by an up and coming abolitionist named William Lloyd Garrison. You see; I helped him edit this new publication called The Liberator. Mr. Garrison was extremely impressed by my talent and way with words, so he gave me this stunning Morgan mare Yes, time travel definitely has its rewards!
Traveling by horse and buggy, I knew it would be a while before I reached the estate. I just had no idea that someone would be waiting for me.
When Phoebus and I reached the stone barn, Iggy was already inside the
Chevy. Odd, I originally thought, that Fern wouldn't take the car back
to the 20th Century. Rather, she felt it best to let Iggy stew with the
car so close yet so far --- Fern had the keys!
Anyway, I asked Iggy about the box, and he replied, "Hey, babe, don't sweat! I got old Theo's box locked in the trunk safe and sound." He turned to Phoebus and said, "Hey, Jethro! How's your head?" Phoebus said he felt a little better, but...
"That 'chocolate' was a bit too much for my system. I mean, I can eat almost anything, but those brownies..."
Iggy interrupted, "Don't blame the chocolate, man. That secret ingredient was the culprit." Iggy turned to me and said, "Don't worry, Nisha. My "Acapulco Gold" days are history. Might as well let ol' Nub have it than let the cops bust me for..Hey!"
He changed the subject as he asked Phoebus if he wanted to see the inside of the car. "Sure", replied the former soldier. Iggy showed Phoebus everything: the engine, the interior, the radio, the trunk. "Wow! And this is how 20th Centurions get around? Fabulous! But how do you start it up?" Iggy said that he needed the keys to started the ignition, but, "Fern don't know I can hot-wire a car. Yeah! I can make this baby go anytime I want, but since I promised His Honor..."
Just then, I felt someone grab me from behind. One arm grabbed my arm
and twisted it behind my back. The other held a sharp knife dangerously
close to my throat. Right away I knew his voice -- Gerard!
"Not a sound, mademoiselle, or I'll slit your throat!" He motioned to the other man who emerged from the shadows. This man came up from behind Phoebus, knocking him to the floor with a blow to the head. I tried to scream but Gerard held me tighter; the knife was barely touching my skin.
Poor Iggy! All he could do was try to run away, but the other man caught up with him and said, "So, we meet again. Pity that your pretty friend may die. But she will unless you produce that box and produce it NOW!"
Iggy fidgeted while Phoebus struggled to his feet. The other man immediately kicked the former Captain in the stomach. Poor Phoebus writhed in pain, trying desperately to get up. I supposed all that hashish had yet to leave his system; Phoebus moaned and thrashed about in agony. I started to cry when Iggy said to this man, "Robinette, if you want to the box, you'll have to take a little ride in this here machine. It's the only way you'll ever get your paws on it! Oh yeah, let Nisha go; she won't tell."
Gerard, still holding the knife to my throat, sneered, "Oh really? If I know her, she'll go straight to Frollo. No, Rene, we must take her with us!"
Rene Robinette pondered this, saying finally, "Yes, she'll be our bargaining chip." He then addressed Iggy, "All right, my man, let us take a little excursion in this curious, almost demonic looking, machine. Once I have the box, I'll let you all go."
Like hell he will! Robinette will kill us all once he has that box. Claude! How I wish you were here! Come on, Phoebus! Get up!
At last, Rene forced me and Iggy into the car. Iggy said to Rene Robinette,
"Hey man, why don't Gerard and Nisha get in the backseat and you can ride
up front with me." Rene smiled, "How generous of you!" He added,
"I may damned for riding in such an evil looking contraption, but if it
will lead me to Theodora's box..."
Just then, I managed to convince Gerard to take the knife from my throat. "I want to check on Phoebus. Believe, Gerard, he poses no threat. For you see, he's had a few too many if you know what I mean..."
For some strange reason, Gerard let me go to Phoebus. Kneeling at his side, I whispered to him, "Phoebus, you have to warn Claude! We've been kidnapped, and you're our only hope. Here..."
I slipped my pager to Phoebus who had come to long enough to hear my desperate plea. That slight smile was all the reassurance I needed.
Once all four of us -- Iggy, Robinette, Gerard, and me -- were in the
car, Iggy reached under the dash and began to connect wires. Within seconds
the engine kicked on and Iggy put the vehicle into gear. He slowly and
steadily guided the car out of the barn and down the dirt road.
"Where is the box?" , Robinette kept asking.
As soon as the car reached top speed, Iggy reached under the dash, depressed that red button, and shouted with glee, "Here's your damned box!!" And with that we were engulfed by a bright white light...
To Part 11!
Phoebus contacts Claude...Nisha discovers something strange about the box...Claude has a big laugh -- at Robinette's expense.
©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.