Chapter 19
"Joy Amongst the Ruins" 

Chaos in la Place de Notre Dame!

The middle-aged, elegantly dressed gentleman standing nearby couldn't believe his ears as she shouted, "Pierre! Pierre! Find Claude Frollo now! Jehan's badly hurt!" Pierre Mannette couldn't believe his eyes, either, but it was HER! He counted himself fortunate to be in la Place de Notre Dame at the right time. Pierre had just emerged from the cathedral with his family following morning Mass.
That's when he -- and everyone else in the square -- saw four figures dashing towards the cathedral: Jehan Frollo, accompanied by the dancer Esmeralda, her daughter Katerina, and Mlle Ducharme. However, especially with the rumors flying about that "Dorothy Ducharme" may actually be Danisha Wood, Pierre took it upon himself to initiate a conversation with this woman, perhaps jar her memory. But everything happened so fast in those few fleeting moments.

As soon as the foursome appeared in the square, Clarice Flambert, accompanied by the children Orry Ouimet and Nadine Frollo, emerged from Chantelle's confectionery. Then, as if clockwork, Nadine spotted Mlle Ducharme and called out, "She looks like Mommy!" That voice did it! The sound of the child's voice forced 'Dottie' to stop running and begin focusing on the little girl who called her "Mommy". 
Then, if things couldn't get any worse, a little Gypsy boy named Baul tossed a curious looking object into the street. Esmeralda spotted this boy and called out to him. The item rolled under an abandoned wagon; it was then that Nadine called out to "Dottie" and began running towards her. When 'Dottie' took notice, she immediately ran to Nadine, but Jehan, not knowing the dire consequences ahead, sped right behind Dottie, and right in front of that wagon. Of course when Dottie saw what Baul tossed, Danisha came roaring out. Nothing would harm her child, especially something as deadly as a hand grenade. 
Rushing toward her daughter, Danisha shouted at the top of her lungs, "It's a bomb! Everyone take cover!" As she lunged forward to grab her child, people scattered everywhere. At the same time, Daniel "Iggy" McMullen and Quasimodo had emerged from the cathedral; Iggy immediately sized up the situation and warned folks to "Hit the dirt!"
However, just as Danisha cleared her child from the impending explosion, Jehan Frollo ran up from behind. He didn't quite clear the radius of the blast, but if he had delayed a few seconds, Jehan Frollo would've been a dead man.


It was an explosion of which these late medieval era folks had never before seen. Imagine, such a small object producing such destruction. The blast ripped the wagon to shreds; nothing, except a mangled axle, was remotely recognizable. Everything within a ten feet radius suffered damage; the most severe being closest to ground zero. Thankfully, Notre Dame and its immediate environs were spared any damage but a few structures on the opposite end of the square were not so fortunate. Several windows had been blown out; a few roof tiles shattered. Praise to the Almighty, thought Pierre, that no one was seriously injured -- except one. Into this scene stepped three men -- three whose lives would never again be the same.


 "Claude! Claude!"
She called out to him, ran to him, and immediately embraced him. She covered his mouth with fierce hungry kisses; he could only respond with equal passion and fervor. "At last!," whispered Claude Frollo over and over as he held her tightly and kissed her repeatedly. "Claude," she said breathlessly, "Jehan is hurt...There was an explosion...I don't know how we ended up in the square. I happened to see that boy roll the grenade, then Nadine and her friend almost got caught in the blast..."

She rattled on and on as Claude turned his attentions to his wounded brother. For all the joy that stirred in the gathering crowd -- Frollo and his lady were at last reunited -- there was sorrow. Jehan Frollo lay gravely injured. Then there was Evrard Ouimet who witnessed the woman he had nearly made his own in the arms of another man. That man was Claude Frollo, and Phillipe knew this woman -- this Dorothy Ducharme -- was, in actuality, Danisha Wood. 
Phillipe Ouimet, the Minister of Justice, noticing his brother's shocked and bewildered expression, immediately summoned his men to secure the area. "Phillipe, why is my Dorothy in Claude Frollo's arms?!," shouted Evrard as tears poured forth. "Why did he rush to her like that? Why...?! Oh my God! It's her! Dottie is Frollo's lady! The rumors were true, and you knew all along!" 
Evrard pointed an accusatory finger at his brother as he continued to emit venomous words. "You knew Mlle Danisha was still alive! You recognized her the moment you laid eyes upon her! Yet you said NOTHING to me!" 
Phillipe listened to his brother's ranting, saying nothing as he watched Clarice huddle the children close. He studied Orry's expression of disbelief; the boy pulled at Clarice and insisted that the woman is, "Mlle Dorothy! She's to marry my father!"  To which Nadine Frollo, now flanked by the Terrells, countered, "No! That's my mommy! See? Papa's happy to see her. But he's not happy to see Uncle Jehan hurt."
What a spectacle as people gathered about the scene of the blast. Priests and nuns ventured out of Notre Dame to offer their assistance. With the initial shock of the explosion now over, everyone focused their attention on the wounded man. Claude Frollo and his beloved knelt before Jehan, whose injuries were severe in the extreme. 
Phillipe Ouimet turned to his captain, and issued orders that several soldiers assist Claude Frollo. The Minister of Justice then ordered that, "Whoever is responsible for this is to be brought to me -- dead or alive!" He then took Evrard aside, gently saying, "My dear brother, seeing that my men have secured the area, let us leave this place. Evrard, there is so much to tell you..."


"Claude, I don't think Jehan will make it. We have to take him to the 21st for treatment or else he'll die....Why are you looking at me like that?" 
Danisha cradled Jehan Frollo in her arms; she could tell at a glance that his wounds were life-threatening. A piece of shrapnel caught Jehan in the back and left thigh, nearly severing a major artery. The bleeding was profuse although Nisha stuffed the ghastly wounds with pieces of her petticoat. The younger Frollo's breathing was rather shallow and he was barely conscious. 
"Nisha," Jehan whispered feebly, "is it really you? That was...some flight, eh?" 
Jehan swooned away while Nisha continued to cradle him; Claude held his hand. "Jehan," his brother said gently, "you have to hold on...We are taking you to the 21st Century..."

He motioned to Jacki Terrell who by now rushed forward to help. Claude asked with trepidation, "Jacqueline, will a trip to 2005, to seek healing for my brother...?" Jacki's immediate reply: "You mean if taking Jehan to the 21st would perhaps tamper with history? No, Claude, because this was an unscheduled event. In reality, Jehan will live for many years to come."
So, there was no harm in seeking post-modern medical attention for Jehan, but to conceal the transtemporal transport from Minister Ouimet, among others. "Claude," said Danisha, "we need to get going. Jehan's pulse is getting weaker by the minute...Hey!" 
She paused to see her father hurrying across the square. Odd, she thought, why is Daddy here? "Claude, what's up? Why is my father here? And why is everyone else -- Fern, Iggy, Jacki, Tony --  here? And who is that kid with Nadine...?"

The questions came fast and furious as Joe Wood crossed the square to his daughter's side. At once the good professor embraced his firstborn with all the love and tenderness a father could muster. "Daddy, what's wrong?," she asked as she wiped away her father's tears. "Why is everyone freaking out so? Like that man standing over there with Phillipe Ouimet. He's been staring at me ever since Jehan got hurt..." 
Claude Frollo stared into her eyes then shifted his focus on the Ouimet brothers. There was Evrard -- embittered, betrayed, confused -- cursing Phillipe as he left this mad scene. Then Frollo caught Clarice Flambert's eye. She was now joined by Isabelle and Vincent LaCroix, who in turn tried to explain Danisha's sudden "resurrection".
"I do trust Evrard not to hold any of this against me," Claude said to Danisha, "He fell in love with you, my dearest...And Orry...My sweetness, he so looked forward to calling you 'Mother'."  She stared at her beloved with a mixture of total puzzlement and disbelief. "What do you mean? I don't know that man, this Evrard person...Claude, you have to tell me what's going on!"
In time, Danisha would learn the devastating details of a most complicated plot that altered so many lives. However, it was Jehan's life that needed special attention. Like clockwork, Quasimodo, Phoebus, and several bystanders helped to ease Jehan's broken body onto the makeshift stretcher. Into the wagon bed ever so gently they placed him. It would take almost too many precious hours to reach Chateau d'Arcy by horse and wagon. Claude and Danisha stayed in the back with Jehan, keeping him conscious and comfortable. Poor Jehan winced and whimpered in excruciating pain but at least he was surrounded by people who loved him.


On the way, Minister Ouimet, in his carriage, recognized the wagon's occupants and ordered his men to stop. Leaning out the window, Phillipe addressed Claude Frollo, "Please accept my prayers for Jehan's recovery. And accept my apologies for the bad timing in all this madness. Evrard has returned home with his son; he said the most bitter words to me..."
Claude lifted his hand as if to calm his friend. "Do not blame yourself, Phillipe. You did -- we all did -- what we thought was best...By the way, what was device? And who set it off? Phillipe, I want whoever is responsible to pay dearly. Bring in the guilty party alive! I want to see for myself the person who nearly killed my brother!"
Danisha, upon overhearing most of the conversation, pleaded with Claude. "Honey, we need to hurry. Jehan's slipping away." Her stoicism in the face of catastrophe was beginning to give way. No doubt, thought Phillipe, she has yet to learn of her brief time as Dorothy Ducharme. When she regained her memory, it's as if she has totally forgotten every event of the past month! 
Minister Ouimet turned to Claude Frollo, saying, "My friend, attend to your sibling. As for outstanding warrants -- you know what I mean -- my men are combing the city. Hopefully, our wanted men and the person who threw that explosive will find themselves behind bars before day's end."
Jehan Frollo, upon hearing this, stirred himself, looked into Danisha's eyes, and squeezed her hand tightly. He feebly whispered, in a voice barely audible, "I love you, Nisha...If I'm to die, then I want you to remember how much I tried to save you..."
"What did he mean by that, Claude?," she asked after Claude Frollo and Phillipe Ouimet parted. Claude wrapped one long arm about brother and the other around her shoulder. He replied very gently, "My love, when -- if -- Jehan recovers, we need to talk. So many things have happened over the past month...Danisha, it is so incredible! But for now, let us focus on Jehan..."
The road to Chateau d'Arcy seemed longer than usual, given the circumstances. With every bump of the wagon, Jehan Frollo held onto life with an iron will almost equal to that of his elder brother's. He opened his eyes and beckoned to Nisha. "I saw the boy who threw that explosive," he said silently, "but don't ever let Claude or Phillipe learn that. Those people saved our lives; we should be grateful."
Nisha didn't quite understand as she read Jehan's lips, but in due time everything would finally fall into place. Poor Danisha Wood endured an incredible ordeal, and she had a former 'friend' to thank for it.


Meanwhile, in a remote section of town...
"Baul! Where did you get it?! Did anyone besides Danisha see you throw it?," screamed Esmeralda as she shook the bewildered boy. After the explosion, Esmeralda felt if best to make a quick getaway. She witnessed Baul, a sweet faced, black-haired boy of ten years, pitch a curious-looking object into the street. Nisha saw him as well; then she saw Nadine, who called out to her mother. And that's when Nisha finally emerged and lunged forth to protect her child. Unfortunately, Jehan Frollo got caught in the explosion and was gravely injured. 
"Don't you know, Baul?", said Esme in calmer voice and manner, "that if Jehan dies then it's a murder charge for us. Do you understand?"
Baul nodded and replied, "But, Esme, I only wanted to see it work. Monsieur Johnny showed it to me back at the old mill. He said don't pull the pin..."

Tears rolled down the boy's dusky face; his dark eyes swollen from weeping. "I'm sorry, Esme! I only took it from Monsieur Johnny while he slept. I had it with me the whole time and I only played with it today. I was looking at it when I pulled out the pin. Then I heard a hissing sound...I got scared...That's when I threw it..." Baul could say no more, and Esmeralda believed the child when he said it was all an accident. Yeah, an accident...but will Frollo or Judge Ouimet believe it...

Esmeralda removed her hood as she studied her surroundings. An old house in a wretched part of town, abandoned years ago. Few people lived in this area other than beggars, prostitutes, and vagabonds. But it was home for the time being. Esme graciously accepted the cup of wine Katerina offered. She then thought of Danisha, snapped back into reality by Nadine's voice. How fortunate that Nisha reacted just in time to shield her child from harm. The Gypsy dancer also thought of her own child. Johnny Elmore could have hurt Katerina, and I would've done anything to protect her. Well, thought Esmeralda, that's one thing Danisha and I have in common: we love our children...

"Mamá!", said Katerina in a hushed voice; she busily peered through the chink in the wall. "You can see them!"
"See who, dear?"

By now both Esmeralda and Baul had their ears pressed to the wall, straining to hear the conversation going on in the next room. Esmeralda could recognize three voices, but didn't know the others. "Clopin and Mander. They have Johnny Elmore, but who are the other people?"
Baul and Katerina listened again, then the little boy, upon peering through the chink, exclaimed, "That's him, Esmeralda! I know his voice! He was here before. I know 'cause he taught me a magic trick!"

Upon a closer listen, Esmeralda suddenly realized this man's identity. Who was this other man?

In that room...
"Sit him down!," said Clopin harshly as Mander and others shoved a hog-tied, blindfolded, and gagged John Elmore into a rickety straight-backed chair. They even plugged his ears with wax so the man couldn't identity his surroundings by sound.
No, thought Clopin, this turncoat will feel every bit of my revenge, for I can now finally play my trump card!

Clopin ordered Elmore's ears unstopped, but nothing else. "No, he won't escape this time. Mander, bring that knife a little closer to our guest's throat. He will do exactly as I say or else Monsieur Elmore will find himself on the next ship to the New World -- in a coffin!"
Johnny Elmore perspired heavily as he shuddered at the thought of being stabbed to death, or having his throat slit. Either way, it's not a pleasant exit -- too much suffering...Which is exactly what Clopin wants!

"Listen to me carefully, Elmore. If you fail to follow instructions, Mander will draw your blood drop by drop until you die!"
The burly Gypsy cupped Johnny's head from behind and had the blade poised on the man's cartoid artery.

Clopin continued, "I want you to backtrack to that day Julian nixed 'Plan B', yet you had other ideas. I want details, Elmore! Confess to it all: How you got 'the formula'; how you doped an unsuspecting Danisha; how you kept the poor woman in a trance whilst her nearest and dearest mourned her 'death'; how you planned to leave'holding the bag'. Confess everything! Truthfully and in your own words, Elmore! I have a man standing by to write down your every sentence. The blindfold will come off only after you've made your confession. Then you'll have your freedom."
"What'll you do with the confession?," Elmore mumbled against the stinking, greasy rag which gagged his mouth.

Clopin laughed and replied, "Oh yes, that. If your statement is to my satisfaction then you will have the pleasure of watching me burn it. Only then will you have your freedom! I won't tell a soul, Elmore. It will be our little secret."

Someone removed Johnny's gag. The still-blaindfolded man took several gulps of stale fetid air -- he wanted to retch on the spot but resisted -- and said, "Hey, man, what about Frollo and Ouimet? You'll still have a price on your head!" 

"Don't worry about me, Elmore! Now, talk!"

With the sharp blade lightly grazing his skin, John Elmore then began the long confession. For his life and freedom, he spilled the beans about everything: Plan B, the frame-up, the elaborate ruse, the 're-progamming' of Danisha Wood...

When all was said and done, Clopin ordered the blindfold removed. Johnny Elmore's eyes blinked then nearly popped out of their sockets when he saw the two other men standing before him. What the Hell is going on??!!

"I don't believe this! Dammit, Clopin, you tricked me!!"

What did Clopin do exactly? Will Jehan live or die? And how will Nisha react when Claude tells her the truth?
Find out in The Final Chapter!

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