On the Edge of Time


Book Three 
Part Two
"The Minister's Lady Is Missing"

The Time: 1859 Tennessee, near Nashville 
The Place: Jeremiah's farm near Nashville. 
It is pre-dawn hours and Claude Frollo is frantic that his lady is missing. Read on... 

"Monsieur Smiley...", began Claude Frollo, as his host graciously poured more hot, strong coffee into his cup. The man from medieval France hadn't slept since his return from Nashville. He had attended a party at the Nashville Inn, a party given by a man named Caleb Woodbridge. It was there that Claude Frollo had hoped to finally capture Marcel Rougelot, the man wanted for a series of murders in 15th Century France. And he was within my grasp until he slipped away -- Again! I had hoped to send that unholy demon back to Hell where he belongs. And now, he is gone again! And Nisha is missing! I swear if he has harmed so much as a...

"Mr. Frollo, Gracie and Elijah are still searching the area; I'm sure Miss Nancy will turn up soon," said Jeremiah reassuredly, but in the back of his mind, Jeremiah knew what could have possibly befallen Nancy. He began to speak again, "Mr. Frollo, may I be blunt with you?"
Claude Frollo, his haggard expression making him appear far older than his years, obliged his host.

"Mr. Frollo, you, as a visitor to our country, may not know everything about southern slavery. The horrors, the unspeakable tortures, the inhuman brutality. Mr. Frollo, I have a sneaking suspicion that Nancy has been kidnapped, and sold into slavery." Jeremiah allowed Claude Frollo a momentary shock, but the medieval judge resisted any overt display of emotions. True, His Grace loved Danisha, body, mind, and soul -- Yet he reminded himself that he must remain as level-headed as possible. Marcel Rougelot had outwitted the Minister of Justice again, only this time 'le Chameleon' dared to use Judge Frollo's lady as bargaining chip.
But how did Marcel know about Danisha...? Jehan! It can only be...! Oh! If I ever see that brother of mine again, I'll rip him to shreds! How DARE he defy me! Letting a perfect stranger -- a cold-blooded killer at that -- know the most intimate secrets of my private life...Wait, I know exactly how to finally trap him! I will need some help...But first, I must find Danisha...

"Mr. Frollo?," said Jeremiah at last, "call it a hunch, but your Nancy may very well be at Woodbridge Landing."
"Woodbridge...?", wondered the Minister of Justice.
"Ah! So, Monsieur Caleb Woodbridge is the owner of..." Claude Frollo snapped his fingers and muttered, "The McMullens! I can enlist them."

Jeremiah didn't quite understand. "Beg pardon, Mr. Frollo, sir. But if you think I will..."

Jeremiah Smiley shook his head, saying, "Mr. Frollo, my presence here is risky in the extreme, although many do not know that I help many a slave escape. But, sir, ever since Mr. John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry, the slave owners have clamped down even harder on their property. If you are thinking of helping Nancy escape..."
But Claude was desperate, and impatient. "My good man, I have to rescue 'Nancy'; you don't know how much she..."
He stopped himself then arose and took a few turns of the room. Claude Frollo said at last, "M. Smiley, if she is indeed at Woodbridge Landing, I will do everything and anything to rescue her. And if the conditions are as horrid as you claim..."
Claude shuddered to think of his lady suffering at the hands of the cruel Woodbridge family. He had met Caleb Woodbridge the night before, and took an instant dislike to the man. He reminds me of so many of those conspiring, scheming men who had vowed to depose of me...And he may mean my Nisha harm...
Claude excused himself from the room; then, once outside, he took out the wrinkled note Marcel had nonchalantly stuck in the door. Claude wiped away a tear as he read the note again:

Your Grace,
By the time you read this, your lady will be at Woodbridge Landing. You see, I sold her to the master of the manor -- The man was in need of a maid for his daughter, and I was in need of funds. Let me leave you with this warning:


Don't try to follow me this time, unless you want to see any of your friends dead. I know of Madame Fern, the McMullens, and now, I know about your precious Danisha. Thank your brother. Any attempts to track me will be swiftly dealt with -- and you know HOW I take care of those who stand in my way!
Marcel Rougelot

In a fit of rage, Claude Frollo ripped the paper to shreds; once again Marcel Rougelot had foiled the medieval magistrate. How could he? How could he do this?

Rougelot had made sure Claude Frollo would never find him, and Rougelot had dared to sell Danisha into bondage.


Those words stuck in Claude's mind as he pondered ways to free his 21st Century lady. Without hesitation, Claude Frollo took out his transtemporal device, flipped it open, and began to send a series of frantic messages. The first was to Jacki and Tony Terrell, inventors of the time traveler:

Jacqueline and Antoine:
Rougelot has escaped 1859 Tennessee. I want you to track him at once, however DO NOT contact the others, especially Nisha. I shall explain later but something has happened that demands my immediate attention.
One more thing: Do you remember a young lady named Vixen. She was one of your test subjects when you and Antoine developed the time traveler. I want you to contact her at once. I will need her help tremendously. Do not worry yourselves over us -- You need to focus on tracking Rougelot. I will remain in touch.
Claude Frollo
P.S. I hope young Marshall is feeling better.
Message #2:
Danisha has been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Rougelot did that and, once again, he has escaped. I want you to contact Daniel and Lili [Iggy & Cissy] -- Tell them to meet me at Woodbridge Landing this afternoon.
I want you to return to the 21st Century at once. Jacqueline is to contact Vixen; then, once Rougelot's whereabouts are established, well...
Fern, do you remember the 'Madame LaSalle' caper those many years ago? I want you to work that same magic with Vixen. Rougelot does not know her, and she may very well be the one to 'blow' Rougelot's cover.
Claude Frollo
Then, with a heavy heart, Claude Frollo coded one final message to Joe and Geraldine Wood, Danisha's parents:
My dear Joseph and Geraldine,
We are presently in 1859 Tennessee, near a place called Woodbridge Landing. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but we've experienced an unexpected snag. Joseph, I understand your concern but believe me that I would've never placed Danisha in any direct danger. I love her too much.
I know Professor Parsons has informed you of everything...But this man -- Marcel Rougelot -- must be apprehended with all deliberate speed. Will you keep me abreast of news from the homefront? You don't know how much it pains me to be away from what really matters most. Please do not alarm those nearest and dearest to us; we intend to return home once this man is securely locked away in my dungeons. I will remain in touch. And please tell a certain someone that I shall bring a very special surprise.
Claude Frollo
There! I hope they will understand, and not worry so, but I know a parent's worst nightmare is to lose...

"Mr. Frollo," said a voice from behind. Quickly pocketing his device, Claude Frollo wheeled around only to meet the eyes of Jeremiah Smiley. This remarkable man, just past fifty years old, had risked his own life to assist those escaping a life of bondage, suddenly had a change of heart.
Jeremiah spoke again, "Mr. Frollo, sir, I've given the matter some thought, and I've decided to help your friend, your Nancy." Claude Frollo was relieved, yet apprehensive at the same time. Never in all his years as Minister of Justice did he need anyone's help any more than at this very moment. His lover's life was in grave danger and he had to come up with a plan to facilitate her escape.
Within seconds, the man from medieval Paris said to Jeremiah, "M. Smiley, I have a plan to help 'Nancy' escape, but I will need the utmost cooperation from you, and from my friends." Jeremiah spoke up, "Oh, Mr. Frollo, sir, you already have my undying cooperation. You see, sir, there are several slaves set to begin their flight to freedom tomorrow night. Many of those are at Woodbridge Landing, and Elijah, my hired man, is to act as their guide. But, sir, I warn you, of the handful of slaves who manage to flee their owners, too many are recaptured, only to face the harshest of punishments. Moreover, many are simply sold off."

Claude raised an eyebrow; his very expression hardened into a curious mixture of pain and rage. "Sold off...?", inquired Claude. Jeremiah sighed and replied, "Yes, sir. Your Nancy, if she is recaptured, may find herself on another plantation, perhaps in another state..."

Claude Frollo tried to repress the desperate tinge in his voice when he swiftly addressed Jeremiah, "Then, my dear M. Smiley, let us leave nothing to chance. 'Nancy' is to escape tomorrow night!"


At Woodbridge Landing, in a rickety cabin out in the slave quarters, a conversation is brewing concerning Caleb Woodbridge's latest acquisition. Read on...
(from Nisha's Journals)
Ooh, my head...What...Where am I? Who's that? Can't see too good...Can't focus...All I hear are voices...
Indeed, I couldn't quite make out the faces, or the particulars of my surroundings. All I knew was that I was in bed, and fighting off the last trace of chloroform. Marcel Rougelot had given me just enough of that foul-smelling substance to incapacitate me, but only briefly. Even in my half-dazed state, I could make out most of the conversation, and most was not good. In fact, what I heard sent chills through my body. Both voices were decidedly aged -- one male, the other female. The woman's voice, despite her warm motherly tone, could not hide the rage within, while the man's voice tried to talk reason.

"Has she come to yet, Matilda?"
"Just come out of it, Josiah."
"Then you best sober her up and fast, 'cause Massa Caleb wants this here girl brought the house and..."
"Josiah, she's awful pretty. Be a pow'ful shame when Massa Caleb or Mistuh Charlie gets hold of her."
"Matilda, we all know you still a-grievin' for Hattie, but honey..."
"No, Josiah, nothin's gonna happen to this here child. I can feel it -- Even if I gets the skin beat off my bones, ain't no way them two's gonna have their way..."
"Matilda, we can't protect them all. You know them Woodbridge menfolks always gets their way, an' Missus Sarah an' Miss Corabeth just turn their eyes away like nuthin' goin' on..."
"Josiah, when we light out of tomorrow night, we takin' this here girl with us. Poor child, sold to Massa by that Frenchman..."

As soon as I heard 'that Frenchman' I finally kne 5d2 w what had happened:  Marcel had sold me into slavery! And now I was held captive at Woodbridge Landing, owned by one of the most brutal slave owners in the area. I remember when Daddy did his research down here; he learned a great deal of this place's history. Now I was to learn, firsthand, the awful secret of this place, and why so many of Caleb's slaves desperately tried to escape. And I was to learn of a young girl named Hattie -- a woman who resisted Caleb's advances, then dearly paid for her 'insolence'.

Claude! I have to contact Claude! What if I dropped my...

But it was still there, in my apron pocket, along with something else. I was glad I had both hidden away or else I would've never gotten through my two-day ordeal. Two days! Only forty-eight hours to experience what my ancestors endured for a lifetime.

Life on the plantation...What happened to Hattie?  Claude and company visit the Woodbridges...A daring rescue...Danisha meets someone special -- and learns his secret...

To TIME 3:3 

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