"All right, man, is there anything else you might've 'forgotten' to tell me?"
Tony Terrell scribbled away in his notebook as Jehan Frollo recounted even more information revealed to Marcel Rougelot. Several nights ago the younger Frollo, intoxicated with too much wine, women, and money, foolishly and thoughtlessly showed Rougelot his transtemporal device. Jehan even demonstrated how this fabulous device operated!
Tony rolled his eyes in disgust, sighed, then shook his head. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Jehan Frollo, the Minister of Justice's brother, had related to Marcel Rougelot a smattering of American history -- 19th Century events to be precise! How did Jehan become a sudden 'expert' on events that in reality would take place five centuries in the future?
A few years back, when Danisha was still very much a newcomer to medieval Paris, she had left some of her books at the Palais. Of course, these tomes on America's past were meant for Claude Frollo's eyes only. But, somehow, Jehan, during one of his many visits, had espied these books then began reading. His knowledge of English was good enough to make out most of the words; then he began to ask Danisha questions. Of course she obliged him, warning Jehan never to repeat all this newly acquired information. But Jehan, being the careless sort, and under the influence, recounted just enough to Rougelot. And that was all Rougelot needed to get by in his flight through time.
Tony finally said to Jehan, "You know, Jehan, your brother is mighty sore at you, and he's gonna be even more angry that you told a serial killer..."
Jehan Frollo interrupted, "Antoine, please believe me, I never intended for this to happen..."
Tony exploded. "But it did! And it's all your fault! Damn, man, for
once can't you think of someone other than yourself? For all we know, Marcel
may be changing history as we know it; he could be messing up things for
all of us!" He grimaced, grunted a few unrepeatables, then grabbed Jehan
Frollo by the collar and slammed him against the wall. "For once, think
of your brother! Think of Danisha! Think of your own...!"
Tony glared long and hard at Jehan; then, without ceremony, released the younger Frollo. Tony said nothing more as he gathered his belongings and prepared to leave. Jehan Frollo, his grimy face stained with tears, began to mumble apologies but Tony wasn't swayed. "Save your sob story, man! If I were you, I'd think of your brother and all those people out there trying to find Rougelot. You know, someone could get killed in the end and you're to blame."
Jehan sank to the floor and said nothing as Tony motioned to a guard to let him out. Then he said to Jehan, "If you're a praying man, you better start sending some up for Claude and Nisha." And with that, Tony exited the cell, leaving Jehan to contemplate the consequences for his sloppy behavior.
I really should trust my instincts a little more.
The good judge from 15th Century France smiled as he recalled meeting,
"All of your illustrious Americans... It's a pity I didn't have the time
to chat with M. Webster nor with M. Benton...No matter."
There was a wistful look in Claude's eye as he recounted Clay's speech -- a powerfully delivered message scolding both sides for stirring up talk of disunion and the expansion of slavery to New Mexico and California. Clay's Resolutions would be the subject of intense debate for the next several months. Too many broken friendships, too many heated tempers flaring into actual showdowns on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, for us, we would miss Calhoun's last address, and Webster's address. Claude was especially taken with 'the Godlike Daniel' who had missed Clay's address -- Webster had been at the Supreme Court all afternoon, and Calhoun was at his boardinghouse nursing his rapidly fading health.
Claude Frollo took it all in stride as he said, "Ah, well...No matter. Perhaps, when Marcel Rougelot is safely back in Paris, in my time, I may make a return trip to this era..."
"Mr. Frollo, sir! Mr. Frollo!"
That shrill voice cut like a hot knife through ice. The desk clerk from
the National Hotel rushed up to Claude the moment he assisted Fern and
me into the carriage. Out of breath, the little man heaved, "Oh, sir, Mr.
Frollo, sir...Am I glad I caught up with you, sir! Your man, your Mr. Rougelot,
asked me to give this to you, sir." He retrieved a wrinkled piece of paper
from his pocket and handed it to Claude, whose face blanched upon reading
it. The Minister of Justice quickly composed himself, asking, "Did Rougelot
say anything else?"
"Only that he decided to take an impromptu trip..."
Claude Frollo looked at me and Fern; then, pulling out a few coins, he turned to the desk clerk and said, "Here my good man. Consider this a small token of my gratitude."
"Why, thank you sir!", said the little man, his face lighting up as he accepted the many gold coins, "Thank you so much, sir. But, sir, I don't understand..."
Without replying, Claude Frollo ordered the driver to return home. He
then turned to us, his eyes registering pain in the extreme, and said,
"He's escaped - Rougelot has escaped!"
Your Grace,In disgust, I shoved the paper from my sight. "Where did he go, Claude?", I asked, dabbing my eyes with a lacy hankie. Claude looked at me, then said as I reread that note for the last time, "Jacqueline is presently tracking his whereabouts. Antoine is with her..."
By the time you read this I will have slipped through another time portal. What fun I am having, and all because of that stupid brother of yours. That young black fellow, Aaron -- How clever of you to bring along your spies. I must go now. Where? That I do not know. Try stopping me -- YOU WILL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, CLAUDE FROLLO! NEVER! I am, sir...
After a long silence, it was Fern's turn to speak. "Any more news on Smiley?" Claude was about to reply to Fern when his pager went off. Without a word, he flipped it open and began to read the words that scrolled across the screen. His eyes blazed with fire anew when he finally said to us, "Our 21st Century friends have relayed information concerning M. Nathan Smiley and his son. Antoine has also relayed how Jehan..."
Claude handed his pager to me; I read aloud the message.
It's me...I'm back in the 21st with Jacki. I need to stay here a
couple of days; Marshall has come down with a bad head cold. He's OK, just
a little miserable.
Jacki said the tracking mode is NOT working via our individual devices -- a glitch in the program. We can track each other but NOT Rougelot, which is why he's been hard to nail down. We can only track his movements from here, in the 21st. Right now, Marcel Rougelot has fled to 1859 Nashville, and that's a real concern because Jeremiah Smiley is there. That's right! Smiley is an abolitionist who, in the later 1850s, was one of the southern liaisons in the Underground Railroad. If these two should happen to meet...
Nisha, Jehan confessed to swiping your history books. He never intended for all this to backfire, but then again, I don't think he fully comprehends the ramifications if Rougelot is allowed to freewheel throughout history. Your Grace, for your comfort, Nathan Smiley would have died of a heart attack en route to Washington -- I checked out what really happened. Old Nathan was to bring his son's pistols and some new clothes. I guess Rougelot hastened the old man's death, but he may short-circuit many futures in 1859 Tennessee. Ask Danisha if the name "Woodbridge Landing" holds any significance.
I'll stay in touch as much as I can. We're still trying to reprogram the tracer on Jehan's device. Later....Tony & Jacki
The name swirled about my mind as I struggled to remain conscious. My bearings became shaky; my breathing grew more labored as I tried to stand. I read the message again, only to emit an ear-piercing scream, then slip into unconsciousness. I felt hands upon me; I heard frantic voices. One of those voices was that of Claude Frollo.
I wouldn't regain consciousness until we were safely transported to 1859 Tennessee, where I would finally meet Jeremiah Smiley, the man who would come to my aid. Of course, Claude Frollo would have to witness me endure one of the most harrowing ordeals I had yet to face.
Looking at Death in the eye was one thing...Staring down the Devil was something entirely different...And he came disguised as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Tennessee belle and her brother.
End of Book Two
A journey to the Cumberland Valley...Marcel catches up with Danisha, and makes a 'special' sale...The significance of Woodbridge Landing...A Tennessee belle, a sadist planter...
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