Confetti flew furiously; flowers were tossed at the bell ringer's feet as the crowd cheered loudly as Quasimodo stood before them in triumph and gratitude. At last, the poor misshapen bell ringer, shunted away from the outside world for nearly twenty years, finally had his moment "out there." Actually, Quasimodo never dreamed of this moment; all he wanted was to sneak out of the confines of Notre Dame's bell tower and attend the festival, get an up-close and personal view rather than merely watching from a safe distance. The moment the gypsy dancer pulled him upon the stage, Quasimodo had a sense of impending doom. Well, for starters, he knew he was in for it with his guardian, Judge Frollo, but what did Quasi care? For the punishment awaiting him once the festival ended was not even on his mind. Right now Quasi savored his newly won fame and acceptance at the hands of joyous Parisians. No, he would say to Frollo, the outside didn't shun him as predicted; these people actually loved him!
But all good things come to an end as a soldier was overheard saying, "Think
he's ugly now? Watch this?"
Suddenly the bell ringer was smacked dead in the face by sharply aimed fruit. Then another soldier to the side answered with, "Hail to the King!"
Another "splut" to the face. Quasi's expression changed from joyous to bewildered. When he turned to face his assailants, Quasimodo slipped and fell, much to the amusement of the crowd.
Why do this to him now? What made people turn so ugly, the very people who just moments earlier had showered him with cheers and accolades? Soon those cheers turned to jeering, mocking laughter. One man with a rope said to Quasi, "Where're ya goin', hunchback? The fun's just beginning!"
"O Mother of God, no! How can this be?"
"Jacques! Whatever is going on? What is wrong?"
From the safe distance of their table, Jacques could see very well what was
going on, and it pained him to tell Tante Lutisse all the horrid detail, but she
kept pressuring him. "Jacques, you know I can't see very well. What has happened
with the bellringer?"
Jacques tried to "sugarcoat" every detail, knowing that his aunt detested the usually, as she so often put it, "Base, mean, thoroughly unbridled passions of the common peoples."
He said to her, "The crowd is throwing rotten fruit and eggs at Quasimodo. Now they're tying him to the pillory. Oh no! They're throwing more food at him; they're laughing and jeering."
Lutisse could stand no more. She had an inkling the moment the bellringer was crowned King of Fools that something like this would happen. And what of Frollo? What is the Minister of Justice's reaction to all this abuse heaped upon his charge?
To this Jacques, upon glancing Frollo's direction, dejectedly said, "He's doing nothing, good aunt. Poor man is disgusted by this display as much as I." Jacques turned away the moment Captain Phoebus asked the judge, "Sir! Permission to stop this cruelty." The reply? "In a moment, captain. A lesson needs to be learned here."
Then Jacques, tuning out the din of the crowd and Quasimodo's cries for help, spotted someone in the throng. A woman in an oversized hat and heavy black wig was making her way towards Frollo's tent. She managed to sneak to the side undetected and deftly removed the judge's wine cup. She then removed something from her bag – looked like a small flask – and poured its contents into the cup. But Jacques didn't take long to figure out exactly what this woman was up to, or her true identity.
The crowd grew suddenly quiet. Poor Quasimodo, his entire face and body
smeared with rotten food residue, remained helpless. Even his own master would
not come to his aid, but who is this?
A gypsy girl of the most striking beauty. Quasi tried to focus on her face as she ascended the pillory steps. It's her! The lovely dancer who spoke to him so kindly when he accidentally tripped into her tent. She removed her scarf, apologized for the crowd's behavior, then proceeded to wipe his face.
"Jacques!," whispered Tante Lutisse. "What is happening? Why did everyone
quiet down so? Did Frollo say anything to them? I don't know what's going on.
Jacques, do you hear me?"
Jacques Bellot had momentarily deserted his aunt to prevent another crime. When he returned he saw Esmeralda on the pillory; she obviously took pity on the bellringer.
"The gypsy dancer, Tante Lutisse, is helping the bellringer."
"What? And what does Frollo say to that?"
No sooner than she uttered those words did Judge Frollo spring into action with the command, "You! Gypsy girl! Get down at once!"
Poor Jacques, having finally spotted his long lost sister, and listening to an
escalating, very heated verbal exchange between Frollo and Esmeralda, didn't
know what to do. Surely he saw Ameline put something in Frollo's wine cup, and
the man would surely take a sip which just may bring on certain death. But what
happened next gave Jacques the opportunity to make his move. He knew that when
Esmeralda told Frollo, "You mistreat this poor boy the way you mistreat my
people. You speak of justice, but you are cruel to those most in need of your
help!", the judge would be too preoccupied arguing with the beautiful, outspoken
dancer. Perhaps neither Frollo nor the soldiers – especially Phoebus – did not
notice Ameline slipping, what was to Jacques, poison into the judge's
"Silence!," swiftly boomed Frollo. Jacques remembered a similar response when Ameline argued with the judge that night twelve years ago.
"Justice!," Esmeralda defiantly replied with her fist upheld defiantly.
Frollo pointed his long elegant finger at Esmeralda, saying in a cold, threatening voice, "Mark my words, gypsy, you will pay for this insolence."
Imagine Jacques' amazement when Esmeralda hurled the fool's cap at Frollo's feet, exclaiming, "The only fool I see here is you!"
Tante Lutisse, her eyes wide, the mouth gaping, turned to her nephew and
said, "Jacques, did you here that? No one has ever spoken to Frollo in such a
way. Poor girl, for I know what awaits her when Frollo has her in his
"Yes," replied Jacques, still keeping his eye on the furtively moving figure still hovering in vicinity of Frollo's tent. The woman seemed prepared to leave, perhaps using the coming pandemonium to make her escape. But Jacques was faster. Turning to his aunt, he said, "I do believe there will be chaos here. Let me take you home, better yet...I see Abelard not far from us. I can have him take you home..."
"But, good nephew," Lutisse protested, "I do not wish to return home so soon. Why, Frollo is about to have that girl arrested. What is troubling you, Jacques? You seem quite agitated."
Jacques tried to hedge, not wanting to alarm his aunt in any way, but he had to level with her. "Tante Lutisse, there is nothing more to see here. I'm sure Frollo will have the gypsy girl in shackles before long, and I really don't want to see that. So please let Abelard see you home."
"But why? Jacques, she is here, isn't she?"
Jacques had no choice. He said in a flat, matter of fact voice, "Yes, aunt,
she is here. And I have to stop her from committing another crime."
In a cloud of pink smoke, Esmeralda disappeared just as ten soldiers had her
surrounded. The resultant pandemonium was quite amusing, at least to the crowd,
and to Jacques. Esmeralda led Frollo's men on a wild, no holds barred chase,
even managed to ward off three charging soldiers with a well timed and aimed
flick of a helmet.
What a woman!
No sooner than Esmeralda ran across the square, more guards chased her,
trying to catch up with her. One of the entertainers, a man on stilts, dropped a
pole which was caught by the soldiers. Judge Frollo ducked in time as the
soldiers rammed the tent, bringing it down in a heap, with Frollo still in it.
"This is unbelievable, Tante Lutisse!," said Jacques who by now espied his sister across the square. Now was his moment to move; he would insist that his aunt go home. "Good aunt, it is beginning to rain, and from the look on Frollo's face – and I believe he looked that way when he finally cornered Ameline and my mother – the festival is over."
He motioned to Abelard who immediately took his mistress by the hand. "Madame, I will see you home," said the attendant. Turning to Jacques, he asked, "And sir, are you remaining behind?"
"Yes, Abelard. I have some business that demands my immediate attention. I will return to Madame Lemer's dwelling shortly."
The servant, his arm linking with Lutisse's, merely bowed and proceeded to
lead his mistress to her carriage. Lutisse spoke just before leaving, "Jacques,
please do not hurt her. I know she has done things that still irk you, and you
have every right to be angry with her. But please, when all this nonsense with
Frollo and the gypsy girl is over, you must make sure Ameline turns herself in.
After all you've suffered these past years, surely Ameline will pay for what she
Frollo left strict orders: Find the gypsy girl – He wanted her captured alive
and unharmed. Jacques Bellot sighed in relief that Frollo would at last turn his
attentions to Ameline. Now that Jacques actually saw his sister, and what she
did at the festival, Frollo would surely make her suffer the worst of
punishments. It pained Jacques to visualize his sister strapped to a rack,
enduring repeated floggings, or displayed in the stocks receiving the same, if
not worse, treatment of an angry citizenry. But Jacques faced reality. He did
spend twelve long years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Ameline and
Jehanne Bellot committed the most heinous crimes against the innocent and
unsuspecting, culminating in a nobleman's disappearance. And Frollo and his
men still have yet to find the body, that is if Aubert d'Urboise is still alive.
But he can't be...it's been twelve years and the baron was an old man...
Pulling his cloak closely about him to ward off the chilling drizzle, Jacques
crossed the square to where she stood not moments ago. Come on...you
can't be far...the crowd is dispersing...poor Quasimodo has gone back to the
cathedral a heartbroken young man...Esmeralda is no where to be found...
A thousand things swirled through Jacques' mind. What to say to Ameline after
all these years? How to approach her without giving her reason to escape again.
I still love her, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to contain my anger
and frustration. After all the heartache and tragedy she and my mother wrought
through their ill-gotten pursuits. Avarice coupled with coldly calculated
schemes, only to have their seemingly winnable plans backfire once Frollo was on
to them. Now it is just a matter of time. Jacques determined, once he cornered
his sister, he will force the truth from her: the whereabouts of Aubert; why she
continued to lead a life of deception and fraud; what certain hold does she seem
to have on Claude Frollo. Whatever the answers, Jacques assured himself that
Ameline would finally atone for her misdeeds.
The rain stopped as suddenly as it began. The streets, still shining wet,
began to come to life again with citizens going about their daily routine. Oh,
there was the current buzz concerning what happened at the festival, and bets
were made on whether Frollo will capture Esmeralda or if the gypsy dancer will
remain on the run. Odds were in favor of Esmeralda. Never before had someone
actually stood up to the Minister of Justice, defying his orders and calling him
out before all of Paris. Jacques remembered a particular situation concerning
Ameline. Wasn't Ameline briefly involved with Frollo? A short-lived romantic
affair? Jacques wasn't sure at first, but Émile Poulin confirmed it all when
Madame Poulin, Frollo's housekeeper, mentioned a young woman coming out of
Frollo's private chambers very early one morning. Come to think of it, Jacques
thought, it was not long before the baron disappeared, and Quasimodo saw Jehanne
Bellot return home in Aubert's carriage – without Aubert.
They killed him...they must've done it...But where is the body? And Ameline...having an illicit affair with Frollo? Why would Ameline seduce Frollo? She had to...to keep Frollo from finding out exactly what she and Mother were up to...I wonder if Frollo actually fell in love with my sister...No! Frollo is far too refined to fall for someone like Ameline...
Jacques was about to give up the search. He thought he saw her near the
cathedral, but he wasn't sure. He paused for a moment, long enough to see an
aged man wrapped in a purple cloak enter the cathedral. Soon afterwards, he saw
Captain Phoebus enter.
Perhaps the gypsy girl is hiding in there...yes, perhaps claiming sanctuary...seeking the Church's protection...After all, I begged Ameline to do the same thing but she wouldn't hear of it...
Dejectedly, Jacques doubled back and made his way towards Rue de Urnis, to
Tante Lutisse's home. Along the way, he bumped into someone; he was so
preoccupied with finding his sister that he paid no attention to the passerby.
"Pardon, mademoiselle," he said politely but hurriedly. He glanced at the passing figure who merely replied, "Pardon accepted." The retreating figure looked vaguely familiar with her oversized hat and brightly colored dress. This woman is still in festival costume...Wait!
Rushing up to her side, Jacques deftly grabbed her arm, twisting it behind her so hard it nearly took her breath away. He whispered in her ear, "Ameline, at last I catch up with you. Now, you will accompany me back to Tante Lutisse. Better yet, why don't you take me to your lodgings. Frollo is on to you, and so am I. Now, please don't let me use this if you're planning something stupid, such as screaming..."
that same moment, within Notre Dame cathedral, Claude Frollo grabs Esmeralda the
same way Jacques grabbed Ameline...but it is for entirely different
Jacques held the concealed dagger so Ameline could feel the point at her back. He really means it, she thought with a shudder. My own brother will kill me on the streets, in front of witnesses. I must play my trump card.
Without turning to face Jacques, Ameline said, "All right, we will return to my lodgings. But don't shove in that dagger or else you will be spending far more time in Frollo's dungeons, only now it will be for a real crime!"
Go to Chapter 8
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