"There is something not right about this," Lysbette said to Lutisse during their last visit. So Madame Claus, instead of alerting Judge Frollo or telling her husband her suspicions, decided to take advantage of several absences – namely that of Jehanne and Ameline. The former had been whisked off by Aubert himself to the baron's private chateau just outside Paris. The daughter had gone to the Palais de Justice. Lysbette shuddered to think of the repercussions of either man had an inkling they were been suckered.
At any rate, Lysbette made good use of her time alone. Her husband was presently entertaining friends at Le Papillion Doré, and the servants had just left for evening Mass. Ah, now to find something, anything, that would incriminate the Bellots. Lysbette searched their quarters, looking in all drawers and the wardrobe. She found nothing. On last thought, she decided to look in Jehanne's trunk, having taken great care not to muss its contents lest Jehanne gets wise that someone had been snooping. The trunk was unlocked, a blessing on Lysbette's part, so getting in was easy. She carefully sifted through Jehanne's clothing and underthings. She combed the sides, underneath, but found nothing. Dejected that all her spying was for naught, Lysbette sighed and ran her hands on the inside of the trunk's lid. Imagine her surprise when the lid loosened. With much effort she managed to remove the false lining, exposing the precious cargo within.
"Hello! What is this?," she wondered as she removed the packet of papers. Sorting through, Lysbette let escape an audible gasp. There she saw it all: "official" documents supposedly signed by Claude Frollo, and with his seal! Lysbette quickly scanned the documents, taking in every detail. What is this about Aubert leaving his entire estate to Jehanne Bellot?
She read, in part, "In the event of my passing, I, Aubert d'Urboise, Baron de Clellaux, bequeath all my worldly possessions to my wife, Jehanne, and to my step-daughter, Ameline...Signed and witnessed on this day of Our Lord, January 6, 1470."
Lysbette Claus could not believe what she had read, but it was all there in print. But Aubert never mentioned marriage to Madame Bellot, let alone leaving his entire wealth to this woman. Besides, if Aubert had indeed made such changes in his will, such documents wouldn't be in Jehanne Bellot's possession. Lysbette knew for a fact that all of Aubert's official papers were either filed at his family home in Orléans or with Claude Frollo, the baron's official attorney. So why would Jehanne have this, and find it necessary to hide it. It can only be! The woman, and her daughter, intend to defraud both Aubert and Frollo. After carefully putting things back in order, Lysbette went back to her chambers, quickly wrote a note to her husband, then, donning a woolen cloak, made haste to Lutisse Lemer's home.
How could he do it? Why does he keep that monstrosity hidden away in Notre Dame's bell tower? Ameline, pacing about Frollo's private chambers, waited for the judge to return from his office. The courts had wrapped the day's business, and Frollo sent word that he would join Ameline for dinner once he cleared a few minor legal matters. For what could have been a pleasant, private, dinner and, perhaps, some romantic playtime to which Ameline looked forward, the girl began to have some reservations about the man she so eagerly wanted to seduce. She regretted following Frollo that day, to Notre Dame. She wondered why the man visited so often, and she got her answers in the most surprising, and shocking, way.
Ameline, remembering the little boy running up to greet her in the bell
tower, still shuddered with revulsion. The boy, about eight years old, seemed
pleasant enough, but that face! Indeed it took much effort on Ameline's part to
suppress all fright and revulsion. The boy, Quasimodo, was deformed in the worst
fashion. His entire body was twisted and contorted, the back humped and
irregular, the face horribly disfigured. Of course Ameline never noticed the
kindly expression of the child's eyes nor did she marvel at his budding talent
as a woodcarver. Despite Quasi's politeness and charm, Ameline didn't remain
long in the bell tower. She stayed long enough to ask the child many pertinent
questions, but she had already formed opinions about Quasimodo. To her, he
seemed locked in a world all his own. He told her Frollo – "my master" – found
him on the cathedral doorsteps, apparently abandoned by his mother.
"No one else wanted me because I'm a monster," he explained. True, he is a monster, thought Ameline, and Frollo keeps this boy locked up there for good reason. Ameline sensed that she not mention her little trip to Notre Dame's bell tower, and she made Quasi promise never to tell she came to visit him. He promised, adding, "If I did tell, my master would be very mad at me. I'm not supposed to have visitors, just Frollo."
All right, so he forbids the boy visitors; he forbids Quasimodo from ever setting foot outside his bell tower home. Then again, if I found a child who looked like that, I'd drown it, never to be saddled with a misshapen...
She was caught off guard by
Claude Frollo's silky baritone and resounding footsteps. She turned away from
the window to look upon the man who could, one day, make her Madame Frollo.
Ameline, her mind made up NOT to tell Frollo about finding out about his 'son',
simply replied, "I was just thinking how different it is here, in Paris, as
opposed to my home in Calais."
Frollo merely smiled, still amazed at himself for
falling for the lovely lady standing before him. Never in his wildest dreams did
he even entertain the idea of marrying; he, Frollo, vowed years ago to remain
celibate as to set an example to Paris' citizenry. After all, the average
citizen needs proper role models in both the ecclesiastical and civil worlds. To
Frollo, the common crowd was prone to the vices and temptations of the wider
world, therefore it was people like himself to set the proper example of a
virtuous life. The vow of celibacy went with that territory of perfect
self-control and self-denial of all things worldly. If he, as Minister of
Justice, failed to keep that tight rein on his passions, then the average
commoner would have one more excuse NOT to respect and obey those in power.
So why was Frollo, now, on the verge of recanting all that he believed as weakness, thus creating a chink in that tightly woven veneer of propriety and respectability he had built up over the years? Perhaps it was meant to be, perhaps the Almighty Himself had sent this lovely lady to Frollo as a sort of reward for being virtuous, pious, and denying to himself all worldly happiness.
He looked upon Ameline as the epitome of a proper wife. She, with her keenly
observant mind, patrician good looks, and genteel manners, was, perhaps, the
only woman so far worthy of the name "Madame Frollo".
Ameline, despite being the daughter of a minor Calais merchant, had all the markings of nobility, but was so unlike most young women of the aristocracy. Her mother obviously reared the child well. And it pleased Frollo greatly that his friend and client, Aubert d'Urboise, had at last found love in Jehanne Bellot. Perhaps the Lord does work in mysterious ways after all.
Claude Frollo removed his hat then tugged the bell
pull. The day's business is over, and now is time for relaxation and, maybe,
indulge in the romantic. For a man who denied himself female companionship (or
it seemed he denied himself such), Frollo was content playing the
attentive suitor. He paid Ameline the utmost attention and respect a suitor
should towards his prospective bride. He gave her expensive tokens of his love –
that amethyst brooch for one – but had neglected that personal touch women
so adore. Here was a young lady who expected, and deserved, her suitor to sing
love songs, to kiss and embrace her as a lover should. And that's exactly what
Claude Frollo did.
Before the servants brought up dinner, the judge beckoned
Ameline to sit next to him. He sang lovely songs to her in his smooth,
devastatingly entrancing baritone. He recited snatches of romantic poetry
memorized since childhood. More importantly, for Ameline, he deftly put his long
arm around her white shoulder, stroked the silky texture of her dress, then
leaned over and tenderly kissed her cheek. Not an overtly passionate kiss lest
he spook Ameline. No, such things had to build gradually, leading to, hoped
Frollo, far more intimate interaction.
Not that Claude Frollo had any dark designs on the girl, to the contrary. Here was a man who, on purpose, totally divorced himself from intimate knowledge of the female sex. Such behavior was not keeping with his perfect image of a pious, virtuous, almost puritanical public official. As much Frollo enjoyed his past association with women (and there were many), he had virtually clamped down on all bodily desires. To him, falling in love was a weakness reserved for the vulgar, licentious, common crowd.
He was far above such physical cravings. But Ameline had a certain something he could not resist. Frollo was not above calling it simple temptation of the flesh, but there was something about this young lady that stirred those deeply buried passions anew.
Ah, at last, supper is here, and right on time. Ameline,
amused at Frollo's peculiar preoccupation with time and efficiency, marveled at the
glorious repast the Minister of Justice presented before her. Her senses took in
every delectable sight and savory scent. There was an entire roasted rack of
lamb heady with mint and rosemary, a confit of wild duck, a salad of fresh fruits of
the season all dressed in a delicately spiced wine sauce. There was an
impressive assortment of fine wines and brandies, some of which Frollo procured
from Aubert d'Urboise's own vineyards. She couldn't help noticing an abundance
of sterling silver, Venetian glassware, and real linen napkins and tablecloths.
My goodness, thought Ameline, in our home, in Calais, Father never had all this; he couldn't afford it! Frollo must be that wealthy, almost as rich as the baron, to afford all this fine food and elegant tableware on which to serve it.
For a woman who once turned up her nose at the prospect of "getting closer to Frollo", Ameline finally realized that Claude Frollo indeed was her ticket to financial security and freedom.
All during dinner, Frollo was ever the gentleman, carefully and courteously
attending to Ameline's every need. The dinner conversation was light and
pleasant, with Frollo taking the lead, asking Ameline about her childhood and
birthplace. She, sensing her mother was, at the same time, filling the baron's
head with lies, resorted to the same.
Feigning the perfect "poor little me" bit
to the hilt, Ameline launched into series of half-truths.
"Minister Frollo," she began, trying to hold her emotions in check, "I don't like to talk about my childhood, but since you asked so kindly..."
She told Frollo of a childhood
scarred by a lack of money and love. Her father never showed her or her mother a
kindness, preferring to shower his attentions and resources on, "My brother, who
has yet to show his worthiness. He is, sir, a completely corrupted soul.
Jacques wastes his time in brothels, and the gambling..."
On and on she went, one lie built upon another. Frollo couldn't believe what he was hearing. Is all this true? The poor girl! Saddled with an uncaring father and an equally dissipated brother. In a way, this brother, Jacques, as Ameline described him, reminded Claude Frollo of his own brother. Isn't Jehan just like this? Corrupted, lazy, with not an ounce of ambition, always waiting for his more morally sound brother to bail him out of one predicament after another.
"Ameline," Claude said
sympathetically, "your family situation aside, surely you had your pick of
suitors. A lady of your beauty and intellect..."
"But, sir," she replied, now fully in tears, "Father said he'd soon pack me off to a convent. He couldn't – wouldn't – afford me a decent dowry. He fixed it so no worthy young man would marry me. There was one man who I dearly wanted to marry, but Father said 'No'. He said I haven't a dowry and that the suitor's family demanded such."
Ameline, just like her mother was doing with the baron, buried her face in her handkerchief and sobbed uncontrollably.
Claude Frollo, taking pity upon the girl, and this was so unlike
him to do so, rose from his seat, and extended his hand to Ameline. "My dear
lady," he said tenderly, "all your troubles shall come to an end – tonight.
Here, take my hand..."
He assisted her out of her chair, drew her close to him, then kissed her with fiery abandon. Not since becoming Minister of Justice had Frollo ever touched a woman, let alone kiss one. His lips covered hers, his tongue voluntarily slipped inside her mouth. She responded in kind, her own tongue caressing his. Ameline allowed her arms to enfold his slender body, enjoying how his tight muscles felt under the rich black velvet tunic. He in turn stroked the deep blue silk gown, sensing the firm flesh within.
uncanny! For at this same moment, Jehanne Bellot found herself in a romantic
clinch with Aubert. Ameline could sense this from faraway; they were very much
alike, her mother and herself.
Ameline, not wanting to end this passionate
embrace and, perhaps, carry the seduction game further, melted into Frollo's
arms, her body slightly twitching with amorous anticipation. She could feel a
certain moistness deep within her feminine regions. No man, not even Sevier,
with whom she fooled around back in Calais, could compare with Claude
Frollo. Why oh why did this man deny himself such pleasure? But he had to have
some knowledge of how to pleasure a woman, or else he wouldn't be making Ameline
respond with such passion.
Nevermind how many women Frollo 'entertained' in his past. It's the present, and future, that matter now. Once Ameline maneuvered her way into Frollo's bed, once the Minister of Justice made her "Madame Frollo", then all the scheming and double-dealing would pay off handsomely.
In a way, Ameline really didn't care if her mother and Aubert ever married. Ameline actually had a REAL man to take care of her, to love and please her the way a man should.
Not a man to waste time, Claude Frollo maneuvered Ameline to his
bed, a massive four-poster bed with its black velvet canopy, lush velvet and
silk bedcovers, and plush pillows.
Still kissing Ameline – and in different places that drove the girl mad with desire, Frollo managed to strip her of her dress. With one smooth move, he removed his tunic. She in turn unlaced his hose, her hands going after the prized target. Ah, the deep rumbling moans of pleasure emanating from those thin pink lips. Ameline worked her hands over his body, thoroughly relishing Frollo's every caress of hers.
His hands were EVERYWHERE! What erotic skill he possesses, what inherently wicked knowledge of what pleasures a woman so. He bent Ameline back onto the bed, and she immediately positioned herself to allow easy entry.
Claude...please...let me please you..." "Ameline...my love..."
Frollo, fully in the throes of carnal desire, entered Ameline gently, almost without pain. But that's not how it was done back during his youth, when he bedded many a willing – or, most likely, unwilling – girl.
But Ameline was not just another notch on his bedpost. No! This is a woman who has suffered so much in her young life. Perhaps she has awakened the tender, human side of the man everyone claimed to possess not one ounce of compassion or love.
Perhaps it is time, as Frollo thought, to ditch the austere authoritarian, but
only in private, for this young woman alone. While it didn't quite make sense, Claude
Frollo finally made up his mind as he fully lost himself within Ameline's
sultriness. Yes, this one is the one, and come the next week, when Frollo
finalizes the changes to Aubert d'Urboise's will, His Grace will formally
propose to Ameline.
Hearing her moans and screams, on the threshold of climax, Claude Frollo, himself throbbing in ecstasy, at once let loose his precious seed deep inside the woman he so desperately wanted to make his own.
And, perhaps, Quasimodo may have to find another guardian, for my attentions shall be fully
focused upon this lady...
Go to Chapter 15
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