I must say that I was more than a little miffed when Claude Frollo hastily left this morning. But once he returned in time for Nadine's party, and explained why his assistance was needed, I understood completely. It's not like me to be this possessive, this needy; however, ever since this past winter, there's still this uneasiness.Anyway, upon his return, what Claude told me was so astounding. I knew Willie and Clevon; two scholars who became transtemporalists not long after Timescape became a reality. Willie was a music historian, and Clevon an accomplished musician who dabbled in folk culture. Now I understood why those two took a time trip to 1932 Mississippi: to experience first hand the songs of prison life.
As I explained to Claude Frollo, a man who knows penal institutions, albeit medieval, Parchman Farm had a reputation of being virtually escape-proof.?But the man from medieval France was undaunted as he, whilst in 1932 Mississippi, posed as a weary traveler aboard the Yellow Dog. When the train stopped just short of the prison perimeter, Willie and Clevon were making tracks to the depot with the "kill dogs" closing in. Tony and Iggy were there as well; Iggy posed as student who had just given Tony a lift to the depot.
Well, when these people's paths crossed....
"My love, you should have seen the reaction of those people once Antoine and company intercepted our two escapees!"
The gentleman from 15th Century France once again recounted his adventure in 1932 Mississippi, and the daring rescue of two special men. I was totally taken aback as Claude Frollo recounted how he, Tony, and Iggy helped Willie and Clevon over the last fence that separated Parchman Farm from freedom.
"Danisha, those two were ever grateful.... Why, the guards and dogs literally nipped at their heels..."
He wouldn't say anything else; instead he sighed then settled next to me. What a day! Not only did my Claude risk his neck to rescue a couple of friends, but also he made it back in time for Nadine's birthday party. Our little girl presently slumbered in the big 1950's-style sling chair just a few feet away.
It wasn't one of those "Chuckie Cheese" parties, which Claude Frollo so adamantly disdains, but an old-fashioned birthday complete with time-honored games capped with lots of ice cream and cake.?I even decorated the house and backyard with colorful balloons and streamers. For about two hours my home took on an early 20th Century air. We played Musical Chairs and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey. Old silent movies played on the big screen TV. The sounds of an old-time player piano and gramophone filled the house. It was a birthday party straight out of 1905 rather than 2005, of which Claude Frollo made some timely observations, but would only volunteer, "How did you coincide the party with my surprise?"
Come morning, when the three of us finally arrived in 1495 Paris, I was quite shocked -- and pleased -- with Claude's special summer gift. That "reunion in rhythm" Claude hosted that following evening proved to be a much needed release. Finally, after six months of agony and pain, I was reunited with so many wonderful and loving people.
"Felise LaCourbe, what a pleasure to find you at last."
Thus said Raimon Cauant as he sauntered through the courtyard gate and made his way across the garden. Neither Raimon nor Felise showed any emotion as the pair clasped hands. Had the pair met before? Were they perhaps former lovers who simply parted the ways? So many thoughts swirled through Evrard Ouimet's mind as he and Orry followed Raimon into the garden.
In an instant, Felise's eyes traveled from Raimon to Evrard's commanding form. In effort to hold back the inevitable panic, she stood close to Raimon and hissed, "I certainly hope this isn't some cruel game, Renaud! And you've brought Evrard Ouimet! How could you do this? The man must never know, Renaud...Oh, that's right. You are the famous Raimon Cauant, musician par excellence..."
Raimon picked up on Felise's utter distress and gently whispered, "Not to worry, dear Francesca?I'm only passing through town, on my way back to Toulon if truth be known Evrard only wanted to meet the beautiful and talented Felise LaCourbe, poetess par excellence..Now, once we are alone, you must tell me why you came to Paris."
Evrard Ouimet crossed the courtyard and approached Raimon. "So, Raimon, this is the very talented Mademoiselle LaCourbe." He gallantly bowed to Felise then took her hand, saying, "Enchante Mlle. LaCourbe. My good friend has spoken very highly of you, but I must say." He paused a moment, then motioned to Orry. "May I present my son, Orry. He is a budding poet himself - composes mostly childlike rhymes..."
He stopped himself again, saying to Raimon, "My good man, I can't over the resemblance. Are you and Mlle. LaCourbe related? You must be for you share similar coloring and features." To this, Felise only replied, "Raimon and I are distant cousins, Monsieur Ouimet."
With that, Felise summoned her servants to fetch refreshments for her guests. Then she said to Evrard, "I do hope you will stay on in Paris, Monsieur Ouimet. I hear you are leaving for Marseilles tomorrow morning. It is a shame that you will miss Frollo's soiree understand his New World lady is to spend her summer holiday here in Paris, that is, after the soiree at Chateau duPre"
Evrard noted the look of delight in Orry's eyes; the boy at once exclaimed, "Oh, Father! She is coming to Paris after all! Oh, Father, can't we stay for at least a few days before going back to Marseilles? I wish to see Nadine again."
The father could only soothe his son with half promises, but his mind was made up: He and Orry are to return to Marseilles without delay. However, something Felise said caused Evrard to change his plans - for now.
"Raimon," said Felise, as servants brought forth wine and bread, "I've seen the strangest things go into Frollo's lady's home." Then she turned to her attendant and asked, "Jehanne, tell my guests what we saw."
The servant ventured, "It was a large object made of wood. The fat one, that friend of Frollo's, supervised the men moving that thing into the house. Phoebus was one of the men and he said to Madame Fern that he'd 'Never seen a piano like this'. Then Madame Fern's brother, the one they call Iggy, carried something that looked like a box, only it had a huge horn atop it. After they went inside, we could hear this faint odd noise coming from the house. It sounded like...like music, but so unlike any music I've ever heard."
Felise added that she made it her point to stroll by Danisha's home, just out of curiosity. What she heard coming out of that house was so different, exotic, even dangerous. She turned to Raimon and said, "It was music, Raimon, but so fast, so loud, so refreshingly different. There were words too, but I didn't make them all out. Something about a 'ragtime band'."
Now it was Evrard's turn to speak. A million thoughts raced through his mind: Frollo, Danisha, and Phillipe. To Hell with Frollo, and my brother, thought Evrard, for something about Danisha intrigues me. Why, all of Frollo's New World friends intrigue me. What a paradise these newly discovered lands must be!
He turned to his son saying with a smile, "Orry, you may have your wish to see Nadine Frollo again, and I shall have the pleasure of calling on Mlle. Wood the moment she is settled in town." He then said to Raimon, "If what Felise and her attendant said is true, Raimon, then we are in for a treat. New World music! Raimon, think of the wonderfully exciting things we will learn from this woman."
They'll learn new things all right!
Go to Chapter 4!
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