On the Edge of Time


Book Two 
Part Three 

"A Hasty Escape" 

The Time: Early morning, February 5, 1850 
The Place: Jeremiah Smiley's D Street home  Our time traveling lovers share a quiet moment. Read on...

(from Danisha's journals)

Claude Frollo adjusted his deep purple cravat while I refilled his coffee cup. These past three days in mid-19th Century America had already taken their toll on us. Marcel Rougelot had committed yet another murder, ending the life of a Harrisburg farmer named Nathan Smiley. His son Jeremiah, who owned the D Street house where we currently lodged had expected his father's arrival. A distraught Jerimiah told us that, "Father said he was bringing new clothes and my pistols."

Understandably, Claude was beside himself with frustration from the knowledge that Rougelot had not only ended another life, but the man now possessed firearms. "What if he decides to use them", said Claude as he sat next to me. I gently patted his hand and kissed his cheek; I noticed the deeply-etched lines on his handsome face. Within the past few days, I watched Claude Frollo age before my eyes. His expression was haggard, careworn, full of frustration. Of course, the fact that Rougelot had eluded Claude Frollo was only one in a long list of worries. Claude had to learn a very tough lesson during his brief excursion to 19th Century America -- NEVER show any open affection with me.
All I could do was try to turn the subject. "Claude, we can weather this together." I sighed, saying, "Maybe Rougelot will show up at the Capitol today. Since he didn't get to kill Henry Clay..."
Claude Frollo sighed then leaned over to kiss me. He then expressed that he treasured these stolen moments between us. "Or else, I'd go completely mad in this..." He ran his long fingers through his gray hair, saying, "My love, your M. Clay would have surely died before his time. I had Daniel take that package to his 21st Century chemist friend."
"That candy had been generously laced with a potent poison. Poor M. Clay, given his fragile health, would have surely died last night if he had ingested just one piece."

Oh God I want to be sick...This is the day Clay is to make his first major address concerning the Compromise. That measure, once passed, would delay the war by a decade. But things would turn ugly before then...Bleeding Kansas, John Brown, Harper's Ferry, Charles Sumner beaten unconscious by an irate Southern senator...Oh Claude, how much I hate having you witness all this...

Swiftly changing the subject, Claude said, "My dearest Danisha, you look rather fetching today." Claude Frollo recalled me to reality with a warm embrace accompanied by a volley of sweet words and kisses. How good he is to me...How attentive...
Indeed, the 1850 ensemble was rather stylish AND flattering, considering I was playing Fern's 'servant'. The dress was of the deepest gray, with its wide crinoline skirt and generously lacy collar and cuffs. I wore a delicate white apron and headscarf of the finest linen; my ears sported the typical 'Negress' gold hoop earrings. "The women wore these, Nisha", Daddy once told me, "as an expression of their station within the community. Jewelry denoted higher status -- house workers, paid servants, and the like." My face was devoid of any makeup, although I allowed myself a light application of salve to the lips. "Well," as I said to Claude, much to his amusement, "it IS kind of cold out there..."
Claude chuckled good naturedly then grew serious again. He expressed that all attempts to track Rougelot had failed. He continued to hold me as he said, "Despite the tracking mode, Rougelot has alluded us; however, for today, he may have one last card to play."
Now I was slightly more than curious, and frightened. Claude was convinced that since Marcel Rougelot's plot to poison Henry Clay failed, 'le Chameleon' may make a desperate move today. Why was I so apprehensive? I had informed Claude that today, February 5, 1850, marks Clay's major address to the Senate. In this speech, Clay would begin to outline his compromise proposal. It had to go off without a hitch; because, as I related to Claude Frollo, Southern secession and the resultant war would be delayed by nearly a decade. But I didn't quite understand -- Marcel Rougelot, a man from the Late Middle Ages, had no idea of the impact Henry Clay had on American politics. My goodness, Marcel knew NOTHING of American history or red-letter events or...
And then there was the recent murder of Nathan Smiley, an obscure Pennsylvania farmer. Why would Rougelot kill him?
"Claude Frollo," I finally asked, "what drives Marcel to kill? I mean, is it a game? He doesn't know beans about 19th Century America; heck, he doesn't know much about this country, period."
The questions came fast and furious as I felt my own frustrations kick in; I needed my questions answered -- Now! Claude shared my frustrations but he assured me that all the secrecy was necessary. Rougelot may figure out that we were hot on his trail; he may decide to take off unexpectantly.
"My love, I have already contacted Jacqueline. She and Antoine are currently looking into the history of M. Smiley and his son. If the Smileys had any impact on this country's history..." He paused to kiss me; his eyes bored right through me and they registered marked concern. What's the matter, sugarbritches? Why so...?

At last he said, "We need to leave for your Capitol at once." Claude smiled when he added, "I'd like to meet M. Clay myself; then, if my hunch is right, capture Marcel Rougelot and take him back to my time." He kissed me again. "Then there's the matter of Jehan -- Antoine is to further interrogate my brother. My only hope is that Jehan hasn't told Rougelot too much about your country. There's that information concerning the Marquis de Lafayette; then there's..."
His voice trailed off as Fern and Cissy entered the room. "Ready to see history in the making?', asked Fern cheerily. Claude smiled as Cissy told him, "You are in for a treat, Your Grace. You are about to witness one of the most wonderful events..."
She then went on to say that Iggy was already there, "Talking to Senators Benton and Webster about Clay's upcoming address, just to gauge opinion. He's also keeping a sharp lookout for Rougelot, that is, if the guy decides to show up."
Just before we departed for the Capitol, Claude once again cautioned us to "Keep a bright lookout" for Marcel Rougelot. "Or else, we may be witnesses to a bloodbath."


Outside the U.S. Capitol. Claude and company keep a sharp lookout for Marcel Rougelot as Henry Clay arrives. Read on...
It was still early -- not quite nine o'clock -- when our carriage stopped just outside the front entrance to the Senate chamber. Claude Frollo, dressed in mid-19th Century chic, was the first out. He helped us out while keeping a eye on the stately carriage that pulled just a few feet from ours. Within seconds, we saw a tall, slender, elderly gentleman emerge. He appeared to be in his early seventies, although his current state of health suggested that he may be at Death's door any time. He was plainly dressed in black -- suit, hat, cloak, cravat -- a color that only accented his cadaverous body and haggard expression. He coughed constantly as two men -- one was his hired manservant -- helped him up the steps.
We -- Fern, Cissy, and I -- recognized this man right away: The great Senator Henry Clay. But before I could tell Claude Frollo, the city magistrate from medieval France immediately rushed to Clay's side, and assisted the Sage of Ashland up the Capitol steps. As we stood there and watched this poignant scene, Fern turned to me and said, "I wouldn't doubt that Marcel Rougelot is sitting up in the gallery right now. If Claude's hunch is correct, we may very well witness a mass murder...Then what?"
I shuddered at the thought as we rushed inside the building, not knowing that Rougelot was busily making other travel plans. Someone, during the course of an innocent conversation, had tipped off Rougelot. Talk about unexpected...!
But what did it matter...We didn't know he was presently going to...And there we were in the Senate galleries, as witnesses to the greatest assembly of senators in American history...And they were all fighting for the life, or death, of the Union...


Meanwhile, a few blocks away, Marcel Rougelot is en route to the Capitol. But he will be momentarily detained -- then alarmed -- as he learns something very interesting. Read on...
Have to hurry...M. Clay never received my package. Why? Aaron! He never returned to the boarding house...Damn! Something is wrong... But what does it matter? I can still go to this 'Capitol', perhaps shoot down some of those 'senators'...I understand M. Taylor is opposed to this so-called 'compromise' of M. Clay's -- So is M. Calhoun.
Yes! Just stand at a comfortable distance and -- VOILA! Wonder what the results will be? I'm literally salivating in expectation, for nothing gives me more pleasure than to see others suffer...
Poor Vincent! And I wasn't around to witness him all bathed in grief...Perhaps I may find my way back to my own time, perhaps take a trip to Nantes and comfort Isabelle...I really need to get out of this God-forsaken city. So unpleasantly damp and muddy...This great nation's seat of government...situated in the most unhealthful...

"Oh, Mr. Rougelot!"

Marcel's reverie was interrupted by a familiar voice: the desk clerk at the National Hotel. The jaunty little man rushed up to Marcel and waved what looked like a letter. "Mr. Rougelot, am I glad I caught up with you!" Marcel eyed this little man with contempt, and addressed the man as such: "And what brings you out this morning? I thought..."
The man interrupted, "Mr. Rougelot, I just wanted to give you this note A man named McMullen came by early this morning and delivered this but I told him you were staying at Green's Boarding House."
Marcel smiled thinly yet pleasantly as he took the note, opened it, then nearly fainted when he read the words. The desk clerk couldn't help but notice this sudden shift in mood. "Uh, sir? Are you all right? Not bad news I hope."
Marcel quickly regained his composure, stuffed the note into his coat pocket, then said at last, "Oh no, monsieur, it's just that an old friend has arrived in town and has been asking of my whereabouts."
The man smiled, "Well, it seems like your friend's found you." He paused, then snapped his fingers when he said, "That must that French fellow who came by yesterday. Yes, sir. Impressive looking gentleman, said his name was -- Umm..."
The desk clerk stroked his beard then exclaimed, "A Mr. Frollo! Yes, that's his name! He stopped in yesterday just as your man came in with that gift for Mr. Clay."

Now Marcel did everything to conceal his panic. How can this be! How did Frollo know I am here? In 19th Century America...? Jehan! HE must have told his brother everything! Oh my God, what am I to do? Have to leave town, but not before I know where Frollo is staying...
Marcel Rougelot faked a pleasant smile and addressed his companion, "My good man, M. Frollo and I are friends, and I only wish I knew where to find him."
At that the desk clerk piped up, "Oh, Mr. Frollo's staying with friends, sir. A couple from New Harmony...They are boarding with Jeremiah Smiley, an abolitionist friend of mine."
Marcel blanched. "Did you say 'Smiley'...?"
"Why, yes, sir. Someone killed his father a couple of days ago, and the son is leaving for Harrisburg right after Mr. Clay's address. That reminds me..."

The man took out his watch, eyed it a few seconds, then made few hurried apologies before resuming his journey. "I'm sorry to desert you, Mr. Rougelot, but if I want a good seat...Say, why don't you come along. You said you wanted to..."
Marcel nonverbally cut the man off; and, without delay, he took out a piece of paper and a pencil. Marcel Rougelot scribbled a brief message on the paper, then folded the note and handed it to the desk clerk.
"My good man, I've decided to cut short my visit to your fair city. If you should see M. Claude Frollo again, will you give him this message. Tell him that I've decided to take an impromptu journey, and that I hope we will meet again." The desk clerk smiled, took the note, saying that he will, "Personally see to it that Mr. Frollo receives your message."

Marcel Rougelot's mouth curved into an evil smile. Good, he thought, maybe that will throw Frollo off my trail. I can't stay here...So, if Jehan's instructions where correct, I can depress that red button and transport myself back to my time. Then I'll leave Paris, perhaps leave France altogether...Perhaps I could go to Spain or Italy. Surely Frollo wouldn't track me all over the Continent!

After Rougelot said his farewells to the desk clerk, he briskly made his way to a narrow alley flanked by a series of now-empty buildings. Just the thing...Everyone must be at the Capitol to hear M. Clay...And Frollo's there, thinking he will capture me. Let him think just that! While His Grace is there, I'll be on my way. Poor M. Jeremiah Smiley, I'm so sorry to have ended your father's life, but he was old and sick, and...I regret even more not to have witnessed your hour of grief...I particularly like that -- when the loved ones wail and moan...Such whininess and helplessness...

Marcel, concealing himself in the shadows, took out Jehan Frollo's transtemporal device. He closed his eyes as he indiscriminately tapped the tiny keypad; then, finally pressing that red button, he vanished in a sea of white light.


Later on, back in the Capitol, our time traveling friends find themselves in crowded quarters. Read on...
(from Danisha's Journals)
What a squeeze! It was toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose. My goodness! Even the modern Senate hadn't seen a crowd like this -- It seemed that nearly everyone in the country was here. Fern, Cissy, and I sat up in the Senate gallery with eyes firmly focused on Henry Clay. The Gentleman from Kentucky went on with the Senate's routine business until the appointed hour of his first major address. It was close to noon and the chamber was filled to overflowing. The galleries, windows, even the Senate floor itself was packed to the brim with people of every hue and station.
We had spotted Claude Frollo and Iggy earlier; they had the privilege of remaining on the Senate floor for the remainder of today's session. Claude had met Thomas Hart Benton ("Bane-ton" as Old Bullion pronounced it), Francis Blair, one of Old Hickory's strongest allies, Daniel Webster ("Now I know why the historians dubbed him 'The Godlike'," Claude later said to me.). Iggy also introduced the medieval judge to 1850's America's rising stars: Stephen Douglas, Alexander Stephenson, and Charles Sumner. Iggy later took Claude aside, explaining, "This is the guy who'll later get beat up -- but don't warn Sumner of that -- That assault will label the Southerners as a bunch of sadistic hotheads, thus adding more fuel to the abolitionists' cause."

As the appointed hour approached, the entire chamber grew oppressively hot. Somehow, even as I was furiously waving my fan, I didn't seem to mind, for we were witnessing history in the making. As the pages and porters took up the carpets and drapes (It was thought to alleviate the overly heated air -- It really didn't help at all.), I saw Claude Frollo's eyes search the upper galleries, and those eyes soon met mine. His mouth curved into a slight smile; he nodded to Fern and Cissy as if to say, "Don't worry -- I shan't let anything befall Senator Clay." That was reassuring, but what if...

Marcel Rougelot was nowhere to be found; then again, spotting someone in this crowd was difficult at best. During the course of Clay's address, Claude Frollo received two messages: One was from Tony, concerning Jehan and the true fate of Nathan Smiley. The other message? A deliberately taunting note from Marcel Rougelot himself. Somehow he discovered that Claude was hot on his trail, and Marcel decided to turn this manhunt into one long, perilous game.
He had taken off to another time, not knowing that the son of his latest victim was already there. Jeremiah Smiley played a crucial role in this particular era, and Marcel Rougelot nearly ruined everything for me, for Jeremiah, and for Claude Frollo.

How did Marcel know that I was...? Blame Jehan Frollo!

Henry Clay enthralls our time-traveling friends ...Tony relays valuable information...A hasty exit to 1859 Nashville...Marcel blows "Nancy's" cover, and makes some quick cash in the process...A seething Claude Frollo witnesses his lady's painful ordeal...

Go to TIME 2:4

©Copyright FrolloFreak, 1999.

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