Chapter 13

The Time and Place: 
Paris, early evening, February 1495. Outside the Palais de Justice. 
It is now three days before Claude Frollo learns the harrowing truth.  Iggy McMullen was right! Too many people who were ever remotely connected to Danisha and Claude just happened to converge upon Paris at the same time...

These operations always took place after dark. They -- Judge Ouimet, several soldiers, and a handful of spies -- gathered outside the Palais for final instruction. Phillipe Ouimet, forbiddingly severe in his black judicial robe and chaperon, decided at the last minute not to tell Claude Frollo of this latest development. Ouimet reasoned that this was news that had to be broken ever so gently. Claude Frollo stilled reeled from loss of his beloved; he'd be destroyed once he learns the truth about Evrard's fiancée.
Then again there was the painful task of telling Evrard. Despite years of sibling tension, Phillipe still loved his brother; he didn't want to see Evrard hurt. So, upon receiving reports concerning the precise whereabouts of Johnny Elmore and Clopin, Judge Ouimet felt it wise to keep Claude and Dorothy as far apart as possible. Then there was timely news from Frollo's New World spy, Fern Grigsby. How relieved was Ouimet when Fern just happened to walk through that door only moments after Evrard had gone upstairs to check on Dorothy. Glad she never saw Mlle. Ducharme, but that report she presented...
What Fern's friend discovered, and she wouldn't reveal everything, proved right Phillipe's hunch. Armed with that knowledge, especially after meeting Dorothy, Phillipe knew he had to devise ways to tell Claude and Evrard. What does it matter, though. Both are strong men but sometimes news like this is enough to destroy... No, wait until Elmore and the Gypsy King are in custody...
"Sir, what are your orders?," inquired Judge Ouimet's captain. Phillipe replied, "Captain LeJeune, this is not an all-out attack. We are to take Clopin and Elmore alive. As far as others, then arrest those as well. They may have vital information concerning the  the Court of Miracles' true location...."

Suddenly, three figures crossed the square;  in the pale moonlight, Ouimet recognized them at once. "Sir," said Capt. LeJeune, "isn't that the former Capt. Phoebus, and...?"
Ouimet rejoined, "Claude Frollo!"

It was Frollo indeed, accompanied by Phoebus, former Captain of the Guard, and Jacques, Frollo's personal attendant. As the men neared, Phillipe Ouimet silently prayed that Claude would be so exhausted from his journey that joining on this manhunt would be out of the question. Unfortunately Phillipe Ouimet, in his zeal to capture two wanted men, and keep both his friend and brother at bay, had momentarily forgotten that Claude Frollo was a very determined man.
After exchanging a few courtesies, Judge Ouimet had no choice but to inform Frollo that Elmore and Clopin's whereabouts were finally confirmed. Phillipe was wise not to tell Claude anything else, especially about Dottie, or of Fern's findings.
Claude Frollo, still astride Snowball, said nothing for a few fleeting moments. He then turned to his companions and said, "Jacques, continue to my townhouse. Phoebus, I want you to go to the cathedral; make sure Quasimodo does that favor. Find out what you can -- You do remember what we discussed earlier today?"

Both Jacques and Phoebus silently nodded then briskly rode off into the Parisian night. Then Claude Frollo addressed the Minister of Justice, "Phillipe, I want to accompany you. This may not be the Court of Miracles, but never mind. It's Elmore I want -- alive!"

Meanwhile, at the old mill....
"I swear it's her, Clopin! I saw her give money to Katerina, and Rina described this woman thoroughly! Her name is Dorothy Ducharme and she's engaged to Judge Ouimet's brother! Can you believe that? But get this: Mlle Ducharme has been seen with Jehan Frollo. Now how is Jehan involved? I don't get it."
She plopped down beside Clopin as he offered her day-old bread, wine, and white cheese. Not in her wildest dreams did she think she'd set foot in Paris ever again. Had it been that long? More than ten years? Her generous unruly coal black hair seemed impregnated with her inner fire; her jade green eyes flashed. This was the woman they called La Esmeralda. Yes, she came home to Paris only because she felt drawn; something kept nagging at her to return to make amends. Make amends? With whom? Certainly not Phoebus, and definitely not Claude Frollo! Rather, Esmeralda felt guilty over the bell ringer Quasimodo; after all he was a Roma, therefore almost family. She also began to feel a little more empathy towards Frollo's fiancée for reasons Esmeralda couldn't explain. Maybe it was the news of Danisha's death which circulated throughout the Court of Miracles.
Although she felt absolutely no empathy for Claude Frollo, Esmeralda's dislike for the New World woman seemed to abate over the years. And Esmeralda thanked her brief affair with Lazlo for that. During those years since that botched scheme to overthrow Frollo, she met Lazlo only weeks before he died in Clopin's place. My goodness, he almost looked like Clopin!
Lazlo was a good man, and very well traveled. During those few fleeting days, he enthralled Esmeralda with his experiences in the Balkans. He even promised to take her to Serbia once all the conspiracy fallout cleared. But that trip never came, and Lazlo was executed -- At the time, Frollo never learned that the man he executed was NOT Clopin.
When Esmeralda fled Paris for what she thought was the last time, she found herself pregnant. Not with Phoebus' child, but Lazlo's. She was soon taken in by another band who knew Lazlo. This band, mostly entertainers and animal handlers, journeyed throughout south central Europe, especially the vicinity of the Balkan states. When she finally reached the area now known as Slovenia, Esmeralda had already given birth to a beautiful healthy girl, promptly named Katerina. But as the years rolled by, Esmeralda felt that strange tug pulling her back to France. She figured her only reason for returning was that fact that Danisha had a daughter as well.

This she learned from Clopin who explained his sudden interest in Danisha. "She is a kinswoman to the African Guillaume Sarrisin and his daughter Isabelle LaCroix," explained the Gypsy King. "When I met Isabelle, I instantly detected the resemblance. Now while Danisha is not as dark complexioned, the features are similar -- the shape of the lips and high cheekbones; the same proud bearing. These are things that can only be passed through the blood."
When Esmeralda inquired about Johnny Elmore, and the possibility that Claude Frollo will once and for all find the Court of Miracles, Clopin reassured her that, "No, Esme. Elmore is to planted on the Palais steps this very evening. Afterwards, we must be on our way or else Judge Ouimet's men will have this place surrounded."
Clopin paused to glance at a locked door which lead to a secret room, then he continued, "As for Claude Frollo, I'm betting that he'll soon cross paths with Mlle Ducharme. My sources tell me that Jehan has already met this woman, and he has figured that Dorothy has to be Danisha. Jehan Frollo, I suspect, is playing detective, and no doubt has tipped Phillipe Ouimet. The only obstacle is the fact that Dorothy is engaged to marry Evrard. Perhaps Phillipe is stalling for time, that is, lest he break his brother's heart..."

Esmeralda, upon hearing this, suddenly said, "But how did Elmore pull it off? From what I've overheard in town, Danisha was buried...The potion! Clopin, when you told me how Elmore duped you into giving him that stuff...Oh no! But how did he...?"
The Gypsy King smiled and responded, "Esme, when Johnny Elmore finds himself in both Phillipe's and Frollo's clutches...That's another thing my sources revealed. It seemed Elmore had planned to frame me for Nisha's murder. But she's alive, and here in Paris..."

Clopin stroked his scraggly black beard, then snapped his fingers and exclaimed, "Julian! He had nixed 'Plan B' right after Frollo cornered and killed Marcel Rougelot...But Elmore came to me later claiming Nisha's life was still in danger, and I let him have 'The Formula'...Yes, Julian was duped as well..."

At that moment, two of Clopin's spies came rushing forward, both obviously out of breath. The first at once addressed his monarch, "Clopin, our spy network has learned that Ouimet is coming. He has soldiers and..."
The second butted in, "And Frollo's with them!"
A rightfully alarmed Esmeralda threw her hand to her throat in shock. Frollo! How she shuddered as her mind raced back to that fateful day -- the day of the Feast of Fools. Claude Frollo lashed out at her when she dared come to Quasimodo's aid; then he made the most blatant advances...
..And he twisted the truth, just like that! Ooh, Jean-Michel duChamps was right about one thing: Claude Frollo is one determined man...

Clopin, however, remained surprisingly calm in the approaching storm. Why? The Gypsy King knew Judge Ouimet would soon be onto the Roma's whereabouts. Especially with the sudden reappearance of Johnny Elmore, Clopin took no chances lest his people fall into Ouimet's clutches. Rather, he had everyone scattered. Some remained at the old monastery; others headed for secret places on the outskirts of town. Here at the old mill, only a few Roma, including Clopin, Esmeralda, and Katerina were present.
He grinned a bit, stroked his chin, and inquired, "And when do you estimate Ouimet and Frollo's arrival?"
"From the reports along the way, about an hour, maybe less," replied the young Gypsy spy.

Esmeralda, now glancing at that locked door, asked Clopin, "That gives us time to escape, but what do we do with Elmore?"
With a silent, almost sinister chuckle, Clopin replied, "We leave him here for Ouimet. Do you think I'll risk being caught by Frollo? Why, the man has hounded me for decades, and every time I've eluded the intrepid Claude Frollo. However..."
Clopin went on, "My dear Esme, when Lazlo agreed to go to the gallows in my place, I vowed from then on to watch over his daughter. Instinctively he knew, Esme, that you were carrying his child. Now, there is another child to consider -- not that I'm in any way feeling sorry for Frollo. Why should I? No, the woman, the one called Danisha, has a child, and both are Guillaume Sarrisin's kin. How can I allow any harm befall them? Guillaume and his daughter were exceedingly kind to me during my sojourn in Nantes, so naturally...Even though the child is part Frollo, the blood of her mother's family also flows through her veins."
Another interruption as yet more spies rushed into the old mill. "Clopin! Soldiers coming! Look!"
They all peered through the chinks in the stone and sure enough, torch lights could be seen on the horizon, the faint sound of hoof beats gradually growing stronger. "We waste no time," Clopin finally said, as he ushered his people out a rear exit. "Take care no one sees us, and draw no undue attention."
"But, Clopin," asked Esmeralda, "where will we go?"
The Gypsy King smiled and said, "Why, we're off to Paris. I want to see this woman Elmore wanted so desperately to find. I particularly look forward to Frollo's reaction when he learns 'Dorothy Ducharme' is on the verge of becoming Evrard Ouimet's bride."

Meanwhile, on the other side of that locked door...
One more twist of the wrist and I'll be free!
Johnny Elmore, sat with his ear pressed to that door. He heard it all: That Frollo and Ouimet were less than an hour away, and how Clopin and company planned to leave Elmore behind. What truly disturbed Johnny Elmore was the fact that Dorothy Ducharme had finally reached Paris, and she was now engaged to Evrard Ouimet, brother the current Minister of Justice.
All during those days of his imprisonment, Johnny overheard several reports concerning Dorothy. It was true all right! Dottie had blasted herself here to late medieval France and now she was set to marry! 
"I bet she's met Phillipe Ouimet already. On man! He knows her true identity! What if Frollo's found her?"
What's more, Johnny Elmore hadn't his Timescape, which meant he couldn't keep track of Dottie's movements. But what if the thing's fixed? What if Jacki and Tony discover I stole the codes?
A thousand questions and worries raced through his mind while he frantically worked the knife he swiped across the ropes which bound his hands. Earlier in the week, Johnny had charmed Baul a little boy who came to France with Esmeralda and Katerina. Baul's job was to bring Johnny food and water every day. Now Johnny Elmore knew how to con this kid in such a sweet way that no one suspected the man was plotting escape. So one evening, when most were out gathering information on Dorothy, Baul came to Johnny's makeshift cell with bread and wine. In his haste, the boy unwittingly left the knife in the bread. Baul was warned never to leave his knife behind lest Elmore tried to escape, and the boy followed those orders thoroughly. On this particular day, however, with news buzzing about Dorothy Ducharme, and of Judge Ouimet's imminent attack, Baul simply forgot, left the food with Johnny and went off to join his father. Baul's momentary lack of attentiveness meant that Johnny could be free in a matter of moments.

Hell, he thought as he peeked through the chinks in the stone, they didn't even stop to say good-bye. Clopin and his roadies just left me here to face Ouimet and Frollo alone. Oh man, if either of those guys met Dottie, I'm dead meat.
Working furiously, Johnny finally got the ropes cut, then he untied his feet. Free! Now, how to get to Paris without being detected...A diversion...I need some distraction....Yeah!
Fumbling in his jacket pocket, Elmore found it -- a small hand grenade his brought along "Just in case."  Knowing these 15th Century people had never seen such things, Johnny thought it would be fun to set one off. However, with too many things happening too fast, Johnny thought the small explosive would serve as the perfect distraction.
Yeah, just stall 'em long enough to get out of here, and back to town to look up Dottie.
Making sure everyone was out, Johnny picked the door's lock then cautiously made his way outside. Yep, they're gone, Clopin and company...
Where's Frollo and Ouimet?

Not too far away...
"Claude, once Elmore is in custody, we -- you and I -- need to talk. There have been some rather disturbing developments in this case. I'd rather wait until we're settled and all."
Judge Ouimet rode alongside Claude Frollo as they neared the old abandoned mill. Not much was left of the place other than the dilapidated structure itself; the house was long gone -- a victim of aging, ailing owners.
Frollo, astride his fine Percheron stallion, didn't respond right away, but he wondered about those "disturbing developments". The former magistrate pondered the many variables -- how Elmore got hold of the box; how the box ended up in Chantelle's confectionery; why Elmore would dare return to Paris, to this time. Then there was the nagging question of the mysterious time traveler, the one who now had Nisha's Timescape. Finally there was Evrard's fiancée, Dorothy, who Claude Frollo had yet to meet.
In silence, he mulled over Evrard's letter mentioning that Dorothy was from the New World. Impossible, thought Frollo. The "New World" as it stands now, in this year, is nothing more than wilderness and natives. That's what Danisha told me those many years ago when I inquired about Colombo's "discovery".

At last he said, "Phillipe, all I want is to see Elmore pay for what he did. But I must caution you -- Don't kill him! It is vital that he is returned to his own country to stand trial..."
Before Ouimet could respond to this, a loud explosion could be heard in the distance. The bright orange glow of a fire became clearly visible. Soldiers jolted to attention while valiantly calming suddenly spooked horses.
"Whatever was that?," asked Phillipe alarmingly. Claude Frollo, now himself alarmed, looked in the direction of the explosion, thought the worse, and replied, "I believe it came from the mill. Perhaps Elmore has -- Oh no -- perhaps he has killed again..."
Without another word, the two men, accompanied by many soldiers, sped towards that mill. When they arrived, what and who they had hoped to capture was gone.

Same time, in Paris....
"Here we are, Nadine, back home in Paris. Do you remember all this?"
Jacki Terrell, holding onto Nadine, and with a heavy heart, entered Danisha's Parisian home. Not much had changed since Nisha's last visit; everything was still in place. It was an elegant home -- very comfortable for the period -- and furnished with a curious mixture of early Renaissance charm and 1950s kitsch. That was Fern's idea, considering she was the first to live here. Jacki thought the mix rather amusing, especially when she recalled so many of Nisha's visitors inquire about the, "Unusual decor."
Nisha would only smile and say the home's interior design was, in part, "A style that is so popular back in my country."

As Nadine broke free to explore her temporary lodgings, Jacki's eyes surveyed the living area. Tears came quickly and just before Jacki completely broke down, she thought she heard noises coming from the cellar. Fighting back tears and motioning to Nadine, Jacki said quietly, "Nadine, come here. Don't say a thing."

Little Nadine Frollo, oblivious to Jacki's caution, asked, "What's the matter, Aunt Jacki?"
"Shh!," hissed Jacki, "Someone's in this house. Come on, we'll go to your father's house instead..."

Suddenly the trapdoor swung open; Jacki yelped in fear and Nadine screamed as well. Jacki espied the baseball bat in the corner near the door. Holding on to Nadine, she inched towards the door, then grabbed the bat. "Nadine," she whispered, "get behind me. When I say "Run!", I want you to dash out that door and scream for help, OK?"
"OK," replied the little girl, hiding within the billowing folds of Jacki's 15th Century garb.
Soon they could hear footsteps rapidly approaching; Nadine opened the front door as Jacki raised the bat. Her heart thumping madly, the palms sweating, Jacki Terrell whispered, "Get ready, Nadine."

A male figure, tall and slender, emerged from the cellar. Despite the dim candle light, Jacki recognized this man at once. She lowered the bat and let out a sigh of relief. Little Nadine peered out from behind, looked the man up and down then flew to him with outstretched arms. "Uncle Jehan!"

Jehan Frollo immediately embraced and kissed his niece then addressed Jacki. "My dear Jacqueline, your presence is so welcome.  You don't know how much I missed this little one."
Jacki Terrell, returning the bat to its hiding place, swept over to Jehan. She wasn't surprised to find him here as Nisha's home was always open to him. "Jehan," she said upon kissing his cheek, "you gave us such a jolt. But where's Claude?"
Still holding Nadine, Jehan planted numerous kisses upon the child and said to Jacki, "Dear friend, Claude and I are...Well, I really shouldn't discuss this in front of the child..."

Jacki took the hint and said to Nadine, "Honey, it's late. Why don't we get ready for bed. Maybe your uncle will tell you a story."
As the three of them ascended the stairs towards Nadine's bedroom, Jehan said to Jacki, "Afterwards, Jacqueline, we need to talk. I've discovered the most amazing things this past week."



Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®

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