Martine would have simply faded away, never to see her son or brother again...
When Claude Frollo returned to my time frame and recounted Jehan's "good deed", and the results of "Lady for a Day", I nearly fainted. Of course, the marriage of Laurent and Sybille would've gone on without a hitch; those two would produce the latter lineage that eventually anchored those roots in my mother's family tree. What I didn't know was that timely (no pun intended) interference from Iggy McMullen nearly jeopardized the union that would eventually result in -- well -- me! With Iggy in the picture, and that he suggested that Jehan and his friends give Martine the Big Makeover....
This is why Claude hurried back to his time, to 1495 Paris. Seems Iggy mentioned "Tante Florie" to Claude, and that Jehan's friends were in on the deal. Lucky for Claude to run into Gilles Vinet and Phoebus; it was Claude Frollo himself who sort of buffered the blow for Phoebus.
But how did Martine manage it all these years? What I didn't get was
the fact that she could have helped her cousin's orphaned children. Malus,
Jules, and Renée desperately needed strong adult guidance but Martine
chose to watch them from the sidelines. However, Claude gently reminded
me of Martine's unusual circumstances.
"She felt trapped," he told on the day following the LaCroix-d'Anges wedding, "and that her unborn child may be subject to Henri d'Anges cruelty."
Martine, added Claude, never abandoned Alphonse and Adele's children outright, but did subtle, unseen things to make their lives a little more bearable. Claude recounted how, "Martine would leave food and warm clothing on their doorstep. Of course, since she was in hiding, she couldn't make herself known."
So Martine went about as her alter ego, Tante Florie, peddling her flowers and living a life of complete obscurity. Even I never learned this woman's true identity despite several encounters. I remember that first summer, the summer I met Claude Frollo, and Tante Florie was there in la Place de Notre-Dame selling her flowers. When I purchased that first pretty bouquet, the woman looked at me with such warmth. I supposed she heard about what Fern and I were doing for the children. When Claude relayed everything to me, I finally understood, although three young lives might have been altered if she had made her presence known. "But think, dear Nisha, of the outcome if Martine had suddenly reappeared, and especially with Henri d'Anges still very much alive..."
Claude Frollo further explained that Martine was forced to witness her
cousin's children suffer in so many ways. She endured Jules' and Malus'
deaths, and the fact that her own brother had returned to Paris but she
could never contact him. By the time Henri died ("And that, Danisha, is
one murder I never solved."), everything happened so quickly -- The boys'
demises, Renée marrying, Phoebus' marriage to Esmeralda...
Hey, that makes me Esme's kin as well, if at least by marriage. Phoebus and Esmeralda don't live together; they haven't in more than a decade, but they are still married, nonetheless...
Oh my goodness! Wonder what Claude Frollo thinks now, especially that Phoebus and I are related, and that Esmeralda is sort of my cousin by marriage? No, let's do a Scarlett O'Hara and think about this tomorrow. Right now I don't whether to give Iggy a big hug or wring his neck.
If Iggy hadn't planted that suggestion into Jehan's mind, about doing
the Lady for a Day bit, then everything would have been so much different.
According to the official record, that is before Iggy McMullen interfered,
Laurent and Sybille married just as planned. They had several children
and Laurent would become one the foremost textile merchants between Paris
and Nantes. Meanwhile, Martine d'Anges would simply forget about ever meeting
You see, once she received word that Laurent was en route to Paris, she indeed sought out Jehan Frollo's help. But Jehan didn't know what to do, so...
Jehan and his friends pooled their resources and got Martine out of
town just before her son's arrival. What did Jehan and friends tell Laurent?
That Martine had "died", simple at that. Phoebus never knew that his sister
was literally right under his nose; the two never crossed paths.
What I found really strange -- and funny -- that Vincent LaCroix knew about Martine all along. Apparently he had done some business with Henri d'Anges long ago, and that Henri cheated Vincent. What Henri did -- substituted inferior merchandise but charged for first quality -- set Vincent LaCroix back several hundred francs. Henri d'Anges thought he got one over, but he didn't know that Vincent informed Claude Frollo of the swindle. Intriguing that this came right on the heels of Alphonse seeking Frollo's protection for his young cousin.
Of course, that meant that the LaCroixes knew about young Laurent long before he and Sybille began courting. That also meant that Marguerite had to tell the LaCroixes of Martine's unusual circumstances, but she never knew about Martine's later years as "Tante Florie". It took Jehan Frollo to explain that to Vincent LaCroix.
And what about Felise LaCourbe? I never quite figured her out, or of
her willingness to go along with the scheme. She and Jehan had known each
other only a few weeks, but I keep getting the feeling that they met years
ago. Something about that relationship doesn't quite click; even Claude
holds some reservations about the so-called "sparks" between between his
brother and Felise. The fact that Gilles and Simon seemingly keep pushing
Jehan and Felise together does not set too well with Claude. He's so afraid
that Jehan will get his heart broken.
Not that Claude Frollo has any reservations about Felise, on the contrary. He likes her no-nonsense approach and quick wit. She's literary minded, a quality Claude feels is an asset for any woman. He even made a few comparisons between me and Mlle LaCourbe. "However, Danisha, there is something rather disturbing...I know nothing of her family, her background or upbringing."
I have a feeling that in the months ahead we'll run into Felise LaCourbe. Actually, I'm anxious to meet her; Jehan tells me she is a poet.
Oh yeah...the two "players" -- Gilles Vinet and Simon LaPiere ...
When Iggy told me how Jehan's "good time" buddies helped out on this caper, that gave me a real charge. Now don't get me wrong; I like those two, but Simon...
Gilles is so sweet, so likable, although he spends too much time playing instead of working. His brother Alain LeBeau, is Renée's husband and often Gilles helps out, but Gilles would rather spend his days in Victor's tavern. Too bad because Gilles is too old to indulge in post adolescence...
Darn it, just like Jehan, Simon, Iggy, and countless other men I know. Men, on the "backside of thirty, forty, fifty", who think they can carry on as if they're still twelve...
Now Simon... He too is a sweetie, if somewhat rakish and risqué.
I remember Simon LaPiere from a few years back, when Jehan introduced us.
Simon has a deserved reputation as a mild-mannered Lothario, but he's no
cad. Too often his dalliances border on the tender and gushingly romantic
before -- ahem! -- "getting down to business."
Jehan told me that Simon had spent many a summer in southwestern France and often extended these trips into Spain. There he fell in love with the dark exotic beauty of the mulattas. No wonder he seemed so smitten with me the moment Jehan introduced us. But let me say right now that Simon is not my type. Oh I found him charming and everything, but my heart belongs to one man, and one man only.
Dear Claude knows I can take care of myself when confronted with these charmers, but he does not relish to see men fawning all over me as if I was a prized mare. Oh man, what a blow to Simon's ego when he learned I was Claude Frollo's woman. Don't worry, Simon, I'm sure there are many unspoken for ladies out there...
My therapist says I could use a change of scenery, just to get away from the ever-hungry media and all, so Claude has graciously suggested a summer in 1495 Paris. Finally, a chance to meet Martine d'Anges, and Isabelle. Claude says the LaCroixes are staying on in Paris as Vincent, exhausted from wedding preparations, is in no shape to travel. Besides, the newlyweds are nearby, so I'll get to meet them too. Claude also says I may encounter Felise LaCourbe; I'd like that. Jehan's last letter to me explained that Felise inquired about me, and that she is a friend of Clarice Flambert. I'm truly looking forward to three months of sun, relaxation, and fun, and I can't wait for Nadine to get together with Solange's son Jehan-Henri. They're such good friends that Claude often joked that those two kids could carry on their parents' tradition. Oh no, Claude, not the Ultimate May-December romance! No matter...
Oh yes, and I can't wait until I can finally address Phoebus and Martine
in that time-honored, down-home, "Hey, cuz!"
Copyright©2000 by FrolloFreak®
The preceding was loosely based on Damon Runyon's short story "Madame la Gimp". The Damon Runyon Omnibus is available in any public library. Two motion pictures adaptations are available on video -- Lady for a Day starring Janet Gaynor, and Pocketful of Miracles starring Bette Davis and a very young Ann-Margret, are highly recommended. The former is a better film but both are enjoyable.