Family Values


In the several months following Claude Frollo's "last stand", the Bellots allowed things to gel before deciding what and how to go on with their lives. To be sure, Denis had the bittersweet memories of his wife and daughter's individual fates, and that for the first time in his life he was truly happy. Perhaps, to Denis' thinking, all the suffering and ensuring scandals were of a divine nature. No one person's life is determined by pure chance, and perhaps God had willed it for Denis to suffer through Jehanne and Ameline's machinations. In light of what had happened, and for their own peace of mind, Denis decided to stay on in Paris with Lysbette the remainder of their days. With what money he saved from the sale of his Calais home and business, Denis bought a charming house not far from Lutisse Lemer. Madame Lemer and Denis made their amends that very afternoon following Frollo's death.

To Lutisse, there were no hard feelings, and to Denis, Lutisse would need the comfort of family in her most trying times. Already, since hearing of Ameline's death and still mourning the death of Mathena, Lutisse's eyesight faded all the more. How comforting to know that Lysbette became Madame Bellot, a marriage that should have been if it hadn't been for meddling parents. Oh well, concluded Lutisse, things do work out for the best, and Denis deserves happiness at last. She still seethed that Ameline had the gall to poison Mathena and planned similar violent deaths for Frollo and Jacques. Well, thought Madame Lemer, Frollo did himself in, and Jacques is safe...and finally able to resume his life. As for Jacques, things were looking up for him. Through of his friendship with Émile Poulin and brief acquaintance with Dreu Cardin, Jacques soon found himself in partnership with the wildly wealthy man from Orlèans.

Actually, with Frollo gone and no longer a threat, M. Cardin made haste to rebuild his Parisian home and expand his textile trade to the city. Naturally, Dreu needed someone with business acumen to run things from the Paris office, so he extended the hand of generosity to Jacques and Émile. To this, Jacques Bellot was exceedingly grateful and even consulted his father on occasion. In the months following, Jacques soon made plans to marry. A lovely Parisianne named Esperte, who Jacques met during the "Battle of Paris", wholeheartedly accepted the marriage proposal. And his father and step-mother were more than happy to bless the union.
Speaking of marriage, Dreu Cardin, still a friend of the gypsies, graciously donated fabulously expensive red brocaded fabric for Esmeralda's wedding attire. Of course, prior to her marriage to Phoebus, Esmeralda, at Lysbette's request, agreed to treat a certain elderly nobleman to a dance. In fact, she reprised a routine memorized since childhood, and that pleased Aubert d'Urboise to no end. After the performance, his lordship took Esmeralda aside, apologizing for, "Retaining Frollo as my legal counsel, as well as my friend. I had no idea Claude was conducting this nonsensical campaign to rid Paris of your people. You, my dear girl, are a breath of fresh air, and this old man is all the better by knowing you. Unfortunately, Frollo could never see that."

The old baron regretted deeply how badly things turned out between him and Frollo. He really wanted to confront his former friend but...As Aubert put it, "Claude Frollo did himself in. He allowed his conflicting nature to overwhelm his rationale. By not acknowledging his own humanity – that we all fall in love, make mistakes – he set up himself for a very nasty fall. I just hope the new Minister of Justice will remember what happened those last days of Frollo's tenure."

Well, the acting Minister of Justice, Philippe Ouimet, Frollo's right hand man, was everything his predecessor was not. Philippe was a stern man, but not as extreme as Frollo; he was serious but pleasant, even indulged Parisians by lifting the ban on street entertainment. Ouimet wasn't as anti-gypsy as Frollo, therefore the Romany could continue their trades as performers and craftsmen without harassment. To be sure, relations between the Romany and citizens were strained at times, but with the stringent "Frollo laws" relaxed, at least Clopin and his people could live their lives in relative peace.

 However, Aubert d'Urboise was no longer able to enjoy more of Esmeralda's brilliant talent. A few days after the dancer's wedding, the baron took to his bed; the arthritis deep in his joints worsened, causing Aubert much discomfort. His general health failed rapidly, obviously brought on, according to cousin Faure, by the arduous journey from Calais to Paris and overexertion. Nearly incapacitated by one malady after another, Aubert consulted with Philippe Ouimet concerning his estate. He knew the end was near, and he wanted his property bequeathed to those he deemed worthy. Since Aubert had no heirs other than Faure, he thought it fitting, and as a gracious gesture, to divide a good chunk of his estate between the Bellots and Brebéufs. Why? To Aubert's thinking, both Jacques and Denis had suffered enough – from Jehanne and Ameline's fraudulent schemes to Jacques' selfless sacrifice of twelve years of his life. Besides, the young man would need a solid footing once he's married and has children on the way.

Then there were the Brebéufs. Louve revealed to the baron Galien's peculiar parentage. No doubt Aubert was rather disturbed that that pair – Claude Frollo and Ameline Bellot, two people of whom Aubert, much to the amusement of acting-Judge Ouimet, referred to as, "A few aces short of a full house!"   – could ever produce a boy so brilliant yet so unlike his biological parents. The child's future education was assured, thanks to a generous scholarship courtesy the baron de Clellaux. Of course, it was agreed by everyone that Galien never be told of his birth parents. Perhaps when he was older and could understand, but for now such information was best kept a secret. That would mean that Denis would have to satisfy himself with watching over his grandson from afar. Oh, he did meet the boy, even allowed Galien to address him as "Grandfather", and Ponce and Huguette never minded.

Ide Poulin, Frollo's housekeeper, grieved for her now-dead master, although she made a few choice observations concerning the departed Claude Frollo's "peculiar, unsettling behavior" during those nightmarish days. With her master dead, she had no where else to go although Minister Ouimet asked her to stay on at the Palais de Justice. But Ide politely refusing, reasoning that she should stay near her son, help him with his new business. However, she got a more generous offer from Faure d'Aubec. After Aubert d'Urboise passed from this life to the next, Faure expressly requested that Ide help Louve oversee the baron's chateau. That palatial estate was bequeathed to Jacques Bellot, since he would need a house for his new bride. With an offer like that, Ide was more than pleased to accept. She loved Jacques as a son and looked forward to serving "Monsieur and Madame Bellot" with relish.

And what of a certain bell ringer? Upon Frollo's death, Quasimodo was at last free of his oppressive foster parent, enabling him to be among the world "out there." He had not forgotten how Jacques Bellot treated him with kindness and respect, so unlike the sister. While it saddened him that Ameline died the way she did, he was relieved that Jacques finally reunited with Denis. As a token of his appreciation and love, the bell ringer carved a special set of figurines depicting Paris' newest citizens – Denis, Lysbette, Jacques. When Quasimodo presented this set to the Bellots, the family was instantly impressed with bell ringer's remarkable craftsmanship. It was Dreu Cardin who suggested Quasimodo set up shop in Paris. Certainly with the bell ringer's talents coupled with the Bellots' business acumen, Quasimodo's little toys would be a surefire "hit".

But...What about...?

The Bellots seldom mentioned neither Jehanne nor Ameline. Yes, their names came up once in a while during conversation. It couldn't be helped, especially when the family discussed times past. But what did it matter? Denis had the bittersweet memories of his daughter, a girl he had so hoped would turn away from the very things that were her undoing. Once things settled after the "Great Paris Liberation", the Bellots finally gave Ameline a proper funeral. Denis and Jacques had feared for Ameline's soul and prayed that she would not suffer the flames of the next world. Despite the girl's past sins, she was repentant in her final moments, thus avoiding an eternity of torment. Both father and brother hoped so much, a fate that was not shared for Jehanne. She took her own life – a mortal sin...
After the Bellots said their goodbyes to Ameline, Dreu Cardin, just before departing for Orlèans, quipped that perhaps Jehanne Bellot continues to torment Claude Frollo in the afterlife, and the deceased judge is getting his just desserts. The Bellots saw the dark humor in this joke, but what did it matter now? In the end, all the hard-won contentment had been just that – a tough, arduous road that ended in tragedy for some, in triumph for others. All they could do now is try to bring it to some closure and look to the future.


Copyright©2003 by PRP

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