He sat there alone, at a remote table in a darkened corner. He wanted to be left alone, he said to Hugues Jouet, the tavern's owner. "Bring a tankard of ale", was all he said, then he sat there all evening, talking to no one, and never once noticed the comings and goings of several regular patrons.
Hugues, a large, handsome, dark-haired man in his early thirties, sadly shook his head as he watched the gentleman. Whatever happened to this man, a man who was always the life of the party? Ever since the gentleman's return to Paris after a long recuperation, something had been lost along the way. Indeed, Hugues surmised, it must have been that sudden brush with death; that's enough to change any man's life...
Jehan Frollo shifted in his chair whilst nursing the remains of warm
ale. What time was it now? The bells of Notre Dame rang ten times. Have
I been here that long? I truly don't want to leave, but...
He winced a bit from slight pain that emanated from his left side. But that's to be expected, the doctors said. Jehan hated the thought of taking medication for this intermittent pain he'd suffered ever since that fateful day in February. More than three months ago, Jehan Frollo nearly died from injuries suffered during the "Dorothy Ducharme-is-really-Danisha" caper.
How many cruel twists and turns does this life hand us! Not long ago, Jehan Frollo, the spoiled, aimless brother of the former Judge Claude Frollo, enjoyed an almost idyllic existence. Life for him was one giddy and joyous romp with endless days and nights spent gambling and carousing. Always, someone was there to bail Jehan out of one predicament after another. Well, there was Claude, and always these pleas for help were met with a stern lecture on responsible behavior. "He who will not work, shall not eat!", Claude said to Jehan numerous times, but it never quite sank in.
Jehan Frollo bumbled on and stumbled on through what amounted to a wasted life. Here he was, just past forty and nothing to show for all the time and money spent. "It's all gone; there's nothing left," he muttered to himself as he drained the tankard. Jehan sighed and took out the miniature once more; he nearly cried upon gazing at the likeness. In his mind, Jehan said, "Oh Danisha, if you only knew how much I've come to love you. Ever since that day I discovered you were alive and well...and you nearly married Évrard Ouimet if you hadn't regained your memory so suddenly...I nearly died for you, and I'd do it again. But things will never turn out well for me, for you belong to Claude...Oh, my darling Nisha, you must never know what happened in your cellar, when you -- as Dottie -- kissed me..."
"Here, Jehan, it's getting late and I want to close up. Everyone else is gone home and I should've been out of here an hour ago. I missed Mass for goodness sake!"
Jehan's gray eyes met those of Hugues Jouet. Yes, I must go...I've been
here all day...
"Sorry, M. Jouet, it's just that I'm still..."
Jehan hastily replaced the photo in the little bag suspended from his
belt then continued, "It's just that it's so different without my brother
and Mlle. Danisha here..." He winced a bit as Hugues helped him up. The
pain was more acute than before but Jehan would take care of that once
he arrived home. Hugues noticed Jehan Frollo's discomfort then asked, "Need
someone to see you home? You're still a bit unsteady on your feet." He
indicated the cane Jehan carried, but the younger Frollo merely shook his
"That's very kind of you, but I'll manage. It's not far -- Danisha's home that is...I think I still have the key..."
As Jehan fumbled around for the key, Hugues smiled broadly and pointed
at Jehan's long silver neck chain. Said the tavern owner, "I believe that
is the key." Looking somewhat sheepish, Jehan Frollo only responded, "Oh,
I nearly forgot."
He then offered a slight grin, adding, "My mind's been on so many things lately...Such as my injuries. Then there's my brother's lady; Claude says Nisha is making wonderful progress, still..."
"Say no more, Jehan," replied Hugues with earnestness, "It's as if all of Paris has been plunged into a sea of despair ever since that awful mess this past winter. Judge Ouimet's brother takes his son and leaves town, vowing never to return. Poor Mlle Nisha going nearly mad; Frollo and Ouimet barely speaking to each other. And you, Jehan Frollo, nearly lost your life..."
Jehan nodded and said as he made his way towards the door, "Hugues,
everything is so muddled...Évrard and Phillipe were so profoundly
affected by Elmore's nefarious scheme; Claude says his friendship with
both men is irreparably damaged...Oh, my friend, and my injuries. You can't
imagine the pain. Indeed, those New World doctors work wonders, but it
will be a long time before I no longer need this cane."
Just before leaving Jehan Frollo sighed dejectedly. Hugues Jouet put his hand on Jehan's shoulder and said in a comforting voice, "Things have a way of working out, Jehan. What we need around here is a little pleasantry to take away this dark cloud of sadness." Then, before closing and locking the door, he said, "Take care on the way home, Jehan...Your infirmities leave you vulnerable."
Jehan acknowledged Hugues' cautions and bided the man a good night.
Jehan, leaning on the cane, lit the hurricane lantern that set on the table by the door. Now, even in half light, he surveyed this house that once reverberated with the her laughter. Well, it may be some time before Nisha ever sets foot inside this place, a place so full of love and precious memories. He promptly closed and locked the door, then hobbled to his favorite chair by the fireplace. Although the daytime weather had been quite pleasant with balmy temperatures and sunny skies, the nights had been quite chilly. Jehan eased himself into the chair and stirred the once-smouldering embers to blaze anew.
He sighed, "No one around but me...I wish she was here; she always kept
Jehan Frollo missed the many nights spend sharing wine and laughs with Danisha. Up until that fateful February he loved his brother's lady as a sister. Yet, Nisha, believing she was Dorothy Ducharme, came on to Jehan with such fiery passion. She kissed him like no other woman before; he felt those latent desires stir deep inside. Of course, once Nisha regained her memory, she lost all recollection of that romantic interlude. "Thank goodness for that!," said Jehan aloud as he counted the many painkillers he had yet to take. As he downed the pills, he muttered, "No! She must never know...Claude must never know..."
As a tear rolled down his cheek, Jehan Frollo studied the medicine bottle. Nothing in his time period could compare to the little miracles within this bottle. He held the plastic bottle closer to the light so he could read the label. "Per-co-dan," he pronounced somewhat haltingly; he even read the stickers. "What does this mean? 'Federal law prohibits unauthorized dispension'?"
Within a few moments, Jehan suddenly felt rather lightheaded and sleepy.
Might as well get some sleep... just stretch out on her couch, cover with
this nice quilt.
Jehan's physical pain eased up enough to allow the man a few hours sleep. The younger Frollo, still pining for a woman he will never have, slowly drifted off into a deep, dreamless slumber.
Close to dawn, someone had the nerve to pound on the front window. Jehan stirred himself when he heard the insistent pounding and a familiar voice calling to him. "Jehan! Jehan Frollo! Wake up for I know you're in there!"
"Ummm?," Jehan mumbled in annoyed fashion as he forced himself from the couch. He hadn't bothered to sleep in a proper bed; he was that tired. Why is she here at this ungodly hour?! For goodness sake, Martine...What is it...?
Grabbing his cane, Jehan hobbled to the door; in his haste to the door
he let out a whimper of pain. Reminding himself to take more medication
for his discomfort, Jehan opened the front door and beheld the bedraggled
figure before him. She rushed inside before Jehan could formally invite
her. Out of breath, the woman immediately rattled non-stop.
"Oh Jehan! Thank goodness I've found you! I called on your brother but the servants said he's out at his chateau...Oh Jehan, I need to talk to your brother; something terrible is happening...Hugues told me you're staying here..."
She stopped in mid sentence to survey the home of Claude Frollo's New
World lady. In awe she said, "My, my, what they said was true."
"What's that Martine?"
"That the New World is full of gold! Look at this home, so beautiful and filled with such unusual things!"
The woman sighed, regrouped, then finally said to Jehan, "My dear Jehan
Frollo, I had wanted to tell your brother about this but perhaps I can
trust you. You see, I had a letter come from Laurent, all the way from
Nantes. He's getting married to Vincent LaCroix' daughter and he's coming
here, to Paris. He wants his bride to meet me -- but...."
Now Jehan, finally settling down beside Martine, was totally taken aback. How can this be? It's so ironic that... "Martine, is this true? Laurent and Sybille?" Then Jehan's hand flew to his mouth in horror. "Martine, my dear...does Laurent know about you? I mean the truth? And what about the LaCroixes?"
Martine took a ragged hankie from her dingy bag and wiped her eyes. She replied, "Jehan, the LaCroixes never laid eyes on me. Laurent is coming here not knowing that his Maman is..."
At once she broke down in tears before blurting out, "I don't want my boy to see his Maman for what she really is...A dirt poor peddler woman who writes fancy letters to a son she hasn't seen since he was a baby! What he thinks he knows about me are lies, Jehan, all lies! I'm afraid once the LaCroixes find out, then they may not want Laurent and Sybille to marry, and can you blame them? What father wants his only daughter marry the son of a...a..."
Jehan comforted Martine whilst mulling over her predicament. But how
to help her? Odd that help came in several forms: Two of Jehan's "good
time" buddies, an aging flower child of the 21st Century, and a mysterious
woman from Toulon. Then began the fun and games, and a few surprises were
revealed in the end.
ON TO PART DEUX
Copyright©2000 by FrolloFreak®