"That box pre-dates Theodora by two hundred years. You see; the box
was made by a Sicilian jeweler and presented to Constantine. The guy that
had that box made was a Lucius Aurelius, A Roman noble of the old guard
-- Lucius converted to Christianity right before he died, and he credited
Constantine for having such a profound impact on his life. Note that inscription:
'Semper Fidelis'. It was a reminder to all those new Christians never to
Iggy leafed through his papers as he recounted the legend of Theodora's box. We listened intently as the box's entangled history came to life. Iggy continued, "Constantine held onto that box the rest of life. When he died, the box was willed to a Roman noble, some guy named Darius Silvus. This Darius then gave the box to one his former slaves, who had recently bought his freedom. Why Darius would part with such a priceless item is beyond me."
Then Iggy turned to Claude and said, "Your Honor, you and your friends know the rest."
Claude Frollo nodded then said to the aging flower child, "But how did
the box end in Palestine, then, ultimately, fall into Marvin Emswiller's
hands?" Iggy blew out his cheeks, ran his fingers through his long blond
hair, then continued to recount the rest of the story.
It seemed that, after Theodora's death, the box had been locked away in an underground vault. There it remained for nearly two centuries, that is until the Muslims besieged the city in the 7th Century A.D. That's when a fast thinking servant retrieved the box, stashed it among some personal belongings, and escaped to Palestine. There it remained with a nomadic family, and traveled from place to place until the box was sold to an itinerant junk dealer.
Iggy let it be known that, "The dumb dude didn't know what he had until he let that soldier have it for a song."
After hearing all this, Claude Frollo arose from his chair, paced about,
then asked Fern, "Now that Daniel's recounted the unknown history, perhaps
you can explain what could've happened."
Fern grinned and said, "OK. You all know how the slightest alteration can change history forever." We all nodded and agreed; then Fern continued. "Well, I thought history needed a little nudge 'cause if we -- that's us 20th Century folks -- hadn't intervened, Claude here would've been in a heap of trouble."
Now I was alarmed. Claude always said I've made such a deep impact upon his life. And, as Fern said, time travel has its rewards.
Claude said to me, "My dear Nisha, when you showed me those finished photographs, Fern had the most brilliant idea. Since the theft of the real box would have affected my life, Fern felt that history needed a...er...slight alteration."
Then Fern went on to explain how she had taken that photo of the REAL box to a former colleague -- a man whose livelihood was reproducing rare artifacts out of the cheapest materials. "So, I thought, what the heck. Rene and Gerard were stupid enough to fall for the fake", said Fern with a laugh.
We then learned that, from Fern's time trips, the genuine box was indeed
stolen by Gerard and Lt. LeSabre. It was Rene Robinette who masterminded
the theft. And it was all for revenge -- Yves Robinette got his butt beat
by Claude Frollo, something about purposely trodding on Claude's new boots.
The framing of Francois Patou panned out beautifully for Gerard and Robinette. Poor Francois was executed for theft.
Anyway, with neither of us '20th Century folks' around to help Claude,
the Minister of Justice was beside himself with worry that he'd have to
explain the theft to his friends. It was Robinette who ultimately presented
the box to the King, leaving Claude Frollo minus two very good friends,
and with the gnawing guilt that an innocent man was put to death for nothing.
Francois was puzzled further; he turned to Claude Frollo and said, "Excuse me, Your Grace, but I don't understand. Did I hear Mme. Fern correctly? I could've been executed for theft, but you knew I was innocent..."
Poor kid! He's so confused...
It was I who suggested to Claude, "Honey, maybe Francois doesn't need to hear all this. I mean, as long as things will turn out well for him -- He''s still very much alive AND you still have your dignity."
Claude pondered this a bit, then said, "Hmm...Perhaps you're right." He then called to Francois, "My boy, why don't you run along to the courtyard", adding, "And, if I'm correct, in about ten minutes, Jeannette should be ending her duties ..."
Without a word, Francois shot out of that room like a Polaris missile. Claude turned to his laughing guests and cheerfully said, "You see; I know how a pretty woman can turn a young man's head, and heart."
"Now I can tell you how Francois plays into all this."
With Francois presently in the courtyard with Jeannette, Iggy felt it safe to tell us -- Fern, Claude, and me -- how a young man, dead or alive, played such a profound role in the future of the gold box. Francois's salvation would also have a profound impact on Iggy McMullen's life. And how!
Anyway, Iggy told us that the box remained among the many royal possessions handed down, over three centuries, from monarch to monarch. The last owner, Louis XVI, gave the box to Marie Antoinette as a token of his love. But then came the Revolution; Marie, just days from arrest, gave the box to a French noblewoman who had been one of Marie's closest friends.
And WHO was this friend?
"A young lady named Lili Patou," Iggy informed us. He noticed our shocked
expressions, then added, "Yep, Lili Patou is a direct descendent of Francois
Patou." This I couldn't believe!
"But Iggy", I said, "Francois was -- well, would've been -- executed. How can...Oh no!" I turned to Claude and asked, "Just HOW serious is this romance, honey?" All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind as I walked to the window that overlooked the courtyard. Yes, there they are...two lovebirds...I wonder if Jeannette is...
"Yes, my love", finally answered Claude Frollo, "It is true; Jeannette is with child --Francois's child."
To this Iggy further explained that Jeannette, after Francois's death,
had left Paris and lived a life of complete obscurity. Her child, and the
subsequent descendants, would greatly affect the journey of one little
"Anyway," continued Iggy, "Lili fled to London at the height of the Terror. She had a tough time getting out of France..."
When Iggy went into his retelling of the French Revolution, and of the Reign of Terror, Fern and I had to stifle laughs. Claude Frollo's hand suddenly flew to his neck and his eyes grew wide; his face was the very picture of fear.
"Uh, sugarbritches, if it's any comfort, by 1789, you'll be long gone...Uh, Claude?"
Claude Frollo looked at me and said, "I'm glad I live in the 15th Century, not the 18th. I rather like my head -- On my shoulders!"
After we all got over another laughing spell, Iggy continued to recount the tale surrounding Theodora's box. Lili Patou soon married someone named Oliver Wellington, a wealthy textile merchant who had economic interests in colonial America. The box, which was safely locked away in a London vault, remained in the family for all those years. It had survived depressions, panics, and two World Wars before it was spirited away by Marvin Emswiller.
"And that's when I made a few time trips, and found out a few things about ol' Marv." That was Fern, who had uncovered the dirty dealings of a young, and ruthless, American officer stationed in England.
"But", said Claude Frollo, "there's still the matter of Emswiller's
daughter." He turned to me, pointed to a nearby table, and asked,
"My dear, can you hand me that paper?" I complied and handed over
a neatly typewritten report.
Claude scanned the work, then smiled as he announced, "Our dear Jacqueline was kind enough to gather this information about Mme.Cissy Peabody, nee Emswiller."
He glanced at Iggy, saying, "Shall I read this to the ladies?" Iggy returned the smile. "Be my guest, Your Honor."
Iggy rubbed his hands together, paced the room a few times, and finally said, "And the rest, as they all say, is history."
Claude Frollo looked at the aging flower child, saying with a smile,
"I do believe history -- that is, YOUR history -- needs a little help."
He arose from his chair, and announced two very important events that would immediately follow the next days' execution: A wedding, and a homecoming.
I interrupted, "A wedding, Claude?"
"Why, Francois and Jeannette are to be married. Can't have the poor girl deliver a child without the benefit of marriage. Besides, the marriage is crucial to Daniel's future."
"And how will a 15th Century couple affect my future?", asked Iggy.
Claude Frollo smiled again, then nodded to Fern, saying, "I believe your sister can answer that."
It was Fern who revealed that Lili Patou, once she safely arrived in
England, had this inscription engraved on the inside of the lid, just below
the 'Semper Fidelis': "In Memory of Jeannette"
Fern said, "You see; Lili had kept the family promise alive, and I kept that promise alive when I took another trip to 1948 California." Fern went on to say that she took that time trip to 1948, the same year Marvin Emswiller moved his war bride into their new Nob Hill home.
"Seems Marvin got nervous about that box and moved it...uh...But that guard..."
Fern stopped to crack up, then continued, "Dwayne took that time trip with me, and posed as the armored truck driver! Ol' Dwayne pulled a switcheroo!"
Now it was my turn to crack up. "Fern please don't tell me you had...?"
"Oh yeah! I had another fake made up! So, about thirty years later, when Marvin had that thing brought out of moth balls..."
Claude grinned wickedly and said, "He presents to his Arab sheik a cheap copy!"
Iggy still didn't get it. "But what about me?" He turned to Claude and
asked, "And what was this 'homecoming' you keep talking about?"
Claude Frollo smiled again, placed his hand on Iggy's shoulder, and said, "My dear Daniel, when you return to your 20th Century world, things will...hmm....Let's say that a few, minor alterations affected the outcomes for nearly everyone in this room."
OK, so a few strings got pulled to benefit Iggy, but what kind of
changes? And WHERE is the genuine box?!
COMING UP: The joyous Conclusion!
The execution...Iggy's life undergoes profound changes...The real box is presented...Claude and Danisha 'hoof it up' under neon lights.
To Part 13!
©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.