Quasimodo shifted uneasily; his mind doing flip-flops when Clopin suggested the unthinkable. Did he actually declare, "Dump him on the Palais doorsteps"?
Clopin leaned back in his chair, fully adamant that the man named Auburn Wade, a man of the 21st Century, be unceremoniously left at the Palais de Justice. Yes, let Frollo or whoever is the new Minister of Justice deal with the man who so relentlessly pursued Danisha ever since the "Dottie Ducharme" caper. Actually, Clopin thought it would be a fitting comeuppance for Wade, not that he was about to extend Claude Frollo any good will, on the contrary. Clopin was doing this for Danisha, a woman he came to admire and respect, and out of friendship and admiration for Guillaume Sarrisin and the transplanted African's kins-people.
Clopin chuckled good-naturedly as he recalled Nisha giving Auburn Wade her brand of hellfire. Just last night, Esmeralda brought Danisha up to Clopin's private chambers where he held Wade captive. Imagine Mlle Wood's astonishment when she beheld the nosy reporter bound and gagged. Why was Wade here? Who brought him? Why did Clopin hold the man hostage? These and many more questions were leveled squarely at Clopin, who allowed Danisha and Wade a few moments of private consultation. This came just after Nisha launched into an uncharacteristic, profanity laced diatribe on "invading my privacy and prying into my friends' lives." She also made it clear that no one has ever harassed her daughter before, and no one is about to now. She let Wade have it with both fists swinging literally and figuratively. Her righteously angered words pummeled Wade black and blue, as did her many blows to the man's face and body. Clopin had never seen a woman become so violent, so visibly enraged. Oh my, and to think that, on occasion, she did the same to Frollo!
Clopin grinned again, only to turn to Quasimodo and
explain the real
reasons Wade wound up in Paris. "Julian explained it all to
me on that
night of Judge Ouimet's death, just before he took off for
the old mill.
Quasimodo, he said that it was he who brought Wade to
Paris. Julian reasoned
that it was the only way to shut up the man."
The bell ringer didn't quite understand, and it alarmed him that perhaps, somehow, Clopin had discovered the truth behind Frollo's "New World" connections. Can't be! For Esmeralda swore to Quasi and Phoebus that she wouldn't say a word to Clopin or others.
So how did Julian "explain" Wade's sudden appearance in 15th Century Paris? Well, listening to Clopin relate all, it relieved Quasimodo that neither Julian nor Esme spilled the beans. What plausible explanation Julian provided the Romani headman was enough; thus, the secret about TimeScape and Danisha remained just that secrets.
"Anyway," Clopin continued, "Julian told me that he dumped Wade somewhere in the countryside, not fair the city. He said he valid reasons for doing so, and not just because Wade had been harassing Danisha."
Now Quasi pieced it together. He remembered what Jehan
Frollo said yesterday:
Julian is actually Esmeralda's distant descendant, and that
he was TimeScape's
original underwriter. So, Auburn Wade was not only digging
up dirt on Claude
Frollo and Danisha, but on Julian McNaney as well. Jehan
related how Julian
funded the research on transtemporal device, originally an
physics professor's project. And Jehan recounted Julian's
the latter departed, for the last time, to the 21st
Apparently Auburn Wade had made inquiries following the whole "Dottie Ducharme is really Danisha" caper, even interviewed Johnny Elmore, the mastermind behind Danisha's supposed "death". Elmore, presently serving a 100-plus year sentence for kidnapping, extortion, and attempted murder, still babbled on about medieval France and Claude Frollo. He told Wade about Frollo, about the time travel device, and about his "forever lost love". That would be Danisha.
Elmore's tales were pooh-poohed by medical and correctional authorities as sheer nonsense provided the nosy reporter all he needed to dig even further. Yeah, thought Wade, those stories Ms. Wood, her family, friends, and Claude Frollo told the press were OK on the surface but something was amiss. This is why he relentlessly pursued Danisha for facts, of which she could not and would not reveal under any circumstances.
Of course, Wade never discovered, until now, that Frollo was truly from 1400's Paris, and that Danisha and company made frequent transtemporal excursions. He did, however, find out just enough to start asking questions, particularly about Frollo's involvement with the Elmore case and with Julian McNaney. Jehan further explained that Julian lured Wade into a trap — a trap masquerading as compliance.
"So, you want to know all about the Frollo connection,
said to Auburn Wade as he offered the reporter a "ride" to
What a shocker for this man, who soon found himself wandering the French countryside—more than 500 years in the past! Julian never quite elaborated why he did such a thing: Leave a 21st Century man stranded in 15th Century France, or leave Wade in the care of Clopin.
Whatever reasons, and Julian said he'd make those reasons known in due time, Auburn Wade was here in the year 1495, his ultimate fate yet unknown. Julian did say that all Wade's tapes and notes were destroyed, thus everyone could breathe easier knowing that TimeScape and the Frollo connection are once again safe and secure.
All right, thought the bell ringer, so the secret is safe, but there are other pressing matters, such as Danisha and Frollo's breakup. When Quasimodo expressed concern for his guardian's future, Clopin countered that it would be Danisha's call.
"After all, Quasimodo, it was she who walked out on Frollo. Not that I don't blame Frollo for unconsciously sowing the seeds of this latest discord between the pair of them."
Quasimodo sighed, knowing that if the breakup is indeed permanent, then he has lost a cherished friend and confidante. It became increasingly clear that neither Nisha nor Nadine would ever set foot in this late medieval city ever again, not with Frollo just a few steps away. He prayed for a miracle that would, perhaps, lead to a reconciliation for Nisha and Frollo. Even if they never recaptured that lost love, at least the split could be amicable enough so Nadine would still be in contact with her father. Quasi shook his head sadly; his mind on a myriad of concerns, including Julian's state of health that was, at this time, only known to Jehan Frollo. He asked Clopin about Julian, and the Romani king replied in earnest.
"Quasi, I had an inkling that all was not well for Julian. That raging cough, the acute pain, the ever-present use of powerful medicinals. He told me that he was in very bad shape, and that his prognosis is not good. That was all he could tell me. Deep down I know the man is dying, but he never let on."
The bell ringer added that Julian, who had wanted very much to see the kidnappers' execution, simply took off the night before. Jehan Frollo was the last person to see Julian before the latter's departure. Still, Quasi wondered if Claude Frollo knows about Julian's condition, that the man is desperately ill, perhaps dying. Clopin answered that unasked question with, "I believe Frollo was never told, which is, in my opinion, the way Julian wanted. I can tell you this much, Quasimodo..."
And Clopin laid it all out: Julian's increasing disgust with the way Frollo and Judge Ouimet handled the kidnapping case, and Esmeralda's sudden decision to leave Paris for good. At this latest news Quasimodo was quite alarmed. To this Clopin explained that Esme's presence in Paris could be disconcerting for all involved, especially that it was she who told Danisha to find a way to reconcile with Frollo.
"Claude Frollo must never know this, Quasi. He would be livid if someone such as our Esmeralda counseled his lady, considering the still hard feelings he harbors toward Esme and our people in general."
Quasimodo sighed again, this time hoping that once Frollo did finally see the light, there may be a chance for his guardian and Nisha to get back together. He also hoped that handing over that bracelet would jolt the man to his senses. Quasi never got over Frollo's shocked expression when he told Nadine's explanations as to why she was returning that silver bracelet.
"He made my mommy cry."
That was explanation enough. Now, if something doesn't give soon, all hope is lost.
Claude Frollo walked over to the piano, sat down, then lifted the lid. Absentmindedly he allowed his long slender fingers to glide over the keys, producing a few discordant harmonies. His face was the very picture of dejection as he tried to conjure images of his beloved, but the images never came.
True, Frollo felt a mixed bag of emotions from forlorn
hope to silent
rage. With the sound of each disconnected note, Frollo
pondered ways to
win back his lady, but he also felt betrayal and rejection.
How dare she walk out on me! After all we've weathered these many years. I've risked my life for her, suffered with her through the most trying...
He also pondered the fallout from Orry Ouimet's kidnapping: The murder of Minister Philippe Ouimet, Orry's uncle; the shocking revelation of Orry's true parentage; the paid assassin sent to kill Felise LaCourbe. Then there was Évrard Ouimet, Philippe's brother, who at this moment seemingly won over Danisha's attentions and heart. What cruelties this life hands us!
During the public execution of those kidnappers and murderers, Frollo never let on to citizens the extent of his turbulent emotions. Never did he break or waver. He presided over the task as he had always done in the past. Everything went without trouble or fanfare; even the crowd gathered to watch didn't stir much. The whole of Paris was still reeling from Judge Ouimet's untimely death. Earlier this morning Jehan was present at the execution, out of concern for his brother. As Jehan later related to Quasimodo, "My brother, Claude Frollo oversaw the execution as calmly as he has always done. There was no outward emotion, on Claude's part that is, when he gave the hangman the signal. Those kidnappers, Imbert and Fabrisse, along with the Marquecoin brothers — they're the ones who set that trap upon which Judge Ouimet walked into — didn't take long to die."
Yes, those vile wretches are dead and receiving a far greater punishment in the next world...
He sat at the piano for what seemed like hours, brooding over lost love and an uncertain future without his daughter. The servants were given strict orders not to disturb him under any circumstances. However an unexpected afternoon caller, and what she said to Frollo, made all the difference.
"Claude, how long are you going to wallow in this senselessness?"
Thus said Madame d'Arcy, the matriarch of Chateau d'Arcy and one of Claude Frollo's oldest, dearest friends. Her late husband, André, and Claude were especially close, so it pained Marie-Louise to see the retired Minister of Justice in such a state. If André was alive he'd tell Frollo a thing or two. The news of Frollo's latest difficulties reached Marie-Louise's ears via her niece Solange Marchand, who earlier had received a rather disturbing message from Jacqueline Darcey.
What is this world coming to?, wondered Madame d'Arcy,
as she bundled
herself against the October chill and made the journey to
private chateau. Was that message Solange passed on the
truth? Had the
special relationship between Frollo and his New World lady
ended so abruptly?
Marie-Louise pondered all the while assessing that unique bond that kept two very people together for more than a decade. While Marie-Louise didn't quite approve of Frollo and his lady's non-matrimonial state, she did come to love Danisha as the daughter she never had. Often Nisha would come out to Chateau d'Arcy for an extended visit. Madame d'Arcy never forgot Nisha Wood's kindness toward her niece, Solange, who suffered so many emotional blows herself. It was Danisha who kept Solange's spirits aloft after the latter suffered a painful miscarriage; Solange did likewise when Danisha lost a baby.
In fact, Frollo himself continuously heaped praises upon
his New World
lady, that it was she who had brought so much joy and
pleasure to his life.
Now, within the shadows of Chateau duPré, Marie-Louise found a brooding, heartbroken Claude Frollo and took it upon herself to repair what damage had been wrought. True, she didn't know the particular details or circumstances as to why Danisha and Claude broke up, but she recognized true love. "Claude, as I said before, I don't know what truly transpired since that awful calamity..."
Frollo, his eyes tired and face etched with new lines of sorrow, rumbled, "Marie-Louise, I had no idea this crime would have such far reaching repercussions. Why, it was just a few days ago that Danisha and I commiserated over the dreadful Ouimet family secrets. Somehow I wished I was present that day Imbert l'Etrange snatched little Orry, then none of this horrible..."
Marie-Louise lashed out, her frail elderly frame
stiffened as her eyes
blazed, "Claude Frollo! I am surprised that you, of all
people, would allow
such a thing to spiral out of control! André himself
me many times that something like this would happen."
She, like Danisha's Aunt Nola Jean, was a force to be reckoned with. Marie-Louise was not one to cross, and she too had a history of telling people "like it is."
"Claude, how long have we known each other? More than thirty, no, forty years. You and Jehan have always held a special place in my heart; your nearest and dearest are just as precious to me. So it pains me to hear that you and Mlle Danisha have, as Jacqueline put it, on the outs."
Marie-Louise d'Arcy continued to relate to Claude Frollo
such as the many times she has treasured Nisha and Nadine,
"As much a part
of our extended family, although we are not of the same
She backed up a bit, paused as if to gather her thoughts, then continued. "Claude, if you still love her, then find a way to win her back. Évrard Ouimet may play his hand this time, but he is not the one for her. I can sense it...Danisha belongs with you, and you alone. Go to her. Pour your heart and soul out to her. If, as she has often told me, that firm foundation is still alive..."
Now it was Claude's turn to speak, but not after a
out of breath, came through the drawing room door.
of twenty-seven springs was in quite a state, with strands
of light brown
hair still swirling about from her long journey.
She stammered an apology, "I'm so sorry to burst in so abruptly."
She acknowledged Claude Frollo with a sisterly kiss to the cheek. "M. Frollo, please forgive me for barging in on you like this, but I must speak to you..."
Solange glanced at her aunt, then pressed a note into Claude's outstretched hand. "I just received another, rather distressing, message from Jacqueline. It's about your lady, Danisha, and Julian..."
Claude's brow shot up quizzically. What this about
Julian? Indeed, Claude
Frollo worried about Danisha and Nadine, but also fretted
whereabouts. The enigmatic spy never contacted Claude as to
although Jehan mentioned that the man was ill.
He unfolded the letter, scanned the page quickly, only to blanch at once. Quickly he regained his composure, turned to Marie-Louise and said, "My dear madame, I am so grateful for your visit and wise words. That makes two such astute ladies who have so warmly and wisely counseled – and consoled – me these troubling days."
Claude's eyes were now upon Solange Marchand; he said, "Madame, would you be so kind to send a reply to Jacqueline?'
"Good! Tell her that I will be there as soon as possible. Better yet..."
Julian took a rasping breath; his lone cancer-ridden lung barely filled with enough oxygen to sustain. Riddled with intense pain and feeling the very life slipping away, Julian, before breathing his last, gave Jehan final instructions.
"Jehan...go to New York City...to the Plaza Hotel...That's where you'll find her...She's there...Then I want you to take that package and give it to her, but not until after Claude arrives...Understand?"
Now Jehan, his eyes welling with tears, replied in a choked voice, "I understand perfectly, Julian, but...How?"
Julian raised his worn eyes to meet Jehan's. He knew
this was the end.
"We had great times, buddy...You, Claude, Nisha, Fern, Clopin, Quasi, me...Tell 'em all that there are no hard feelings...That tape will tell 'em more...But I want your brother – and Évrard Ouimet – present when it's played...It reveals much..."
And with that said, Julian exited this life for the next.
Copyright©2001 by The FanFiction Diva AKA FrolloFreak®