Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice, wearily entered his
study. It had been a trying day.
Firstly, he had to reason with Quasimodo, who had the audacity to ask for permission to attend the Festival of Fools.
Secondly, there was the new Captain of the Guard, Phoebus...well, he seemed competent enough...
Then, there was the gypsy dancer, Esmeralda. Claude couldn't get over the way she teased him at the festival. She had her nerve...she practically seduced me in public!
And to top it all off, Quasimodo was crowned King of Fools! I warned Quasimodo of this...
Claude's predictions of Parisians' reactions to poor Quasimodo's deformities rang too true, for immediately after Quasi's 'coronation', the crowd taunted his young charge; they tied him to the pillory while pelting him with food.
What else could I do? If ever there was a more perfect lesson to be learned...
That damned gypsy witch! Esmeralda enraged Claude Frollo first by helping Quasimodo; then she angered him further with her bold tongue. She triggered utter chaos in the square. If I hadn't ducked, I would've been nearly decapitated!
Even after he confronted her in Notre Dame, she was still defiant. Sanctuary... She wouldn't last the night cooped up in...
Claude Frollo pushed the memory of Esmeralda from his mind as he removed his hat and sat down at his desk. A servant entered the room; he was carrying a piece of paper.
"I'm sorry to bother you, m'lord, but a young lady came by earlier today. She asked me to give you this."
Claude looked puzzled. "A young lady? When?"
"This afternoon, after you and Captain Phoebus left for the festival." Claude took the paper from the servant.
"Will there be anything else, m'lord?"
Claude Frollo shook his head. "Just make sure I am not disturbed."
"Very well, sir", replied the servant.
All alone in his study, Claude opened the envelope; the heady scent of her perfumed paper filled the room. He smiled, for he immediately recognized the handwriting:
I'm sorry I couldn't make the festival. It snowed so much and got so cold, I couldn't get out until later this afternoon. Jacki's device doesn't work too well in sub-zero temps! At least the weather's nice here -- not so cold!
What's this I hear about Quasi being crowned King of Fools? I know how strict you are, but please don't be too hard on him. Let him have his fifteen minutes of fame.
And what's this I hear of someone giving you lip? If you're thinking what I know you're thinking...
Forget it, honey.
You know that your ladies, myself included, would never hurt or humiliate you. We love you too much.
I only wish I was at the festival with you; we would've avoided a lot of heartache.
I'm staying at Fern's house. Promise you'll get some rest tonight...please. I'll be over early in the morning with a treat for your breakfast. Do you like hot pecan muffins with homemade apple butter? OK, sugarbritches, you can stop salivating...
I love you! See you tomorrow.
Your loving FSM #14,
P.S. I'll let myself in. I know you need your beauty sleep!
How sweet...how kind...
Claude Frollo smiled again as he unlocked the drawer which contained mementoes of his 14th FSM. Ah, here's her picture...enchanting brown eyes, that dark honey-toned skin, that sweet smile...Oh my darling Danisha...Mmm...Your real name is so musical...But that other name!
It was she who coined that pseudonym; Claude was overcome with good-humor at the thought. Mmmm...pecan muffins...she remembered how much I love pecans...and I was the first European man to taste them...others should be so fortunate...
Claude then focused on her warnings about Esmeralda: Leave her alone. She was right; Claude Frollo had a premonition of certain doom after he had left the cathedral. When he cornered Esmeralda in Notre Dame, he was overcome with desire...he always had a weakness for beautiful women. But this one...
She resisted his advances, stared at him with utter disgust; any other woman would've given anything to become an FSM. Foolish girl! She can rot in Notre Dame!
He then took something else from the drawer: a curious device of sterling silver, studded with amethysts. Claude examined this small, yet powerful, device.
wished I had used this...hmmm...if she wasn't in Paris now,
I could depress this red button and...why didn't I think of
this last night...I could be THERE, with her, instead
Claude's reverie was disrupted by a knock on the door. A
servant called to him, "Your Grace, I hate to disturb you,
sir, but I have your supper." Claude sighed as walked
towards the door.
Now I wish I was there...I know...I'll visit her after supper...she always knows how to soothe my worries...
It was nearly midnight, as Claude Frollo sat before the
fireplace. I'm sorry, my love, I had every intention of
seeing you tonight, but...I'm not feeling well...
Indeed, Claude was not well; he felt as if he wasn't there, his eyes failed to focus. He blamed the food and wine; the entree had a strange, medicinal flavor...
What is this strange apparition before me? Esmeralda?
Why are you tormenting me...leave me alone! I can see you!
Feel you! Oh, the silkiness of your raven hair...those
smoldering green eyes...Beata Maria, save me from this
gypsy witch...Esmeralda...I can see you dancing...Dance for
me, my dear...NO!...I'm under a spell...the gypsy witch has
cast an evil spell...on me!...Oh, my dear Esmeralda..come
to me...only a puff of smoke...what is happening to
Claude managed to regain his senses when a guard reported that Esmeralda had escaped the cathedral. But did Claude actually mean what he said? That he will burn down all of Paris...over a woman?
I would never do such a thing! I LOVE Paris...what diabolical mind would...I knew it!...I have been drugged, poisoned...my mind...can't focus..not rationale...BURN WITCH!...BE MINE OR BURN!
Claude Frollo, his mind and body under attack by some
strange potion, blacked out...
Where am I? Oh...my head...who is this standing over
me? Looks like a...gypsy...NO!...not HIM!
Claude Frollo partially regained consciousness; his head
felt as if it were on fire, his vision blurred. Two men
"Well, well", began the first man, his heavily accented voice sounded familiar; it had a wicked, sarcastic edge. "The esteemed Minister of Justice, locked away in his own dungeon...now, how could such a thing happen?"
Claude raised his eyes to the man; he couldn't make out the face for Claude's eyes still failed to focus. "Who are you?", he groggily said, "why are you doing this? You will certainly pay for this crime; I'll take a special delight in carrying out the sentence myself!" His head pounded as the man laughed in Claude's ear. "You won't be Minister of Justice long enough to carry out your threat", the man hissed, "not after you loosen your wrath over all of Paris."
Claude, his mind still in a daze, asked, "What?", uncertain of the men's motives. "Once Paris is burnt to a cinder", said the man, "I shall produce Your Grace before the citizens of Paris. Let them take care of you!"
Claude Frollo looked up at the men; the other looked familiar as well. He was big, blond-haired...NO! It couldn't be!... But this man looked far younger, and not dressed in soldier's armor; yet, Claude could see a family resemblance....
At last the younger man spoke. "Call it poetic justice, sweet revenge...whatever. You've caused this man and his people enough grief, not to mention what you did to me." Claude couldn't believe his ears.
This can't be happening! Tell me it's all a horrible, twisted dream!
"Let us leave His Most Noble Grace to ponder his fate", said the older man, "By tomorrow morning, guess who will be swinging from his own gallows." Then the younger man offered Claude some water. "Here, Your Grace. I don't want your last day on earth to be without some comforts", he said as he handed Claude a cup.
Claude Frollo hesitated; but, he was thirsty. As he drank the water, Claude asked, "And just HOW are you to accomplish such a deed? Have a man pose as me?"
The two men laughed at once; the older one said, "Claude Frollo, you are more clever than I thought! How could you figure out our little scheme?" Both men laughed as the younger one explained, "Give some guy some money to play Claude Frollo. A little make-up, some voice coaching...You should see him! He looks like you, walks like you, talks like..."
Claude interrupted, "But he's not ME!" His head was spinning again...The water...they drugged the water... Once again, Claude Frollo could feel consciousness slipping away.
The men finally left him, locked in a cell deep in the dungeons of the Palace of Justice. Please don't tell me all hope is lost...where is it! Claude fumbled around in his pocket. He didn't have it! Oh no! I locked it away! How could I have been so short-sighted...
Then Claude shuddered, He's up there and I'm down here...and SHE'S due here anytime!...I swear if he harms so much as a hair, I'll...My Nisha...my darling!...How I wish I was with you now!...please remember that I'll always love you...
Claude Frollo blacked out.
Dawn was just breaking over Paris, as the city came to life
with activity. Who's this? Someone new? Many of the older
Parisians knew her right away; they remembered her from the
"Good Morning, madame!", came the greetings as she walked towards the Palace of Justice. She was pretty, well-dressed, and such proud carriage!
She swept through the streets in her long, nearly-black mink cape thrown over a smart black wool suit. A black, hand-crocheted beret protected her neat dark hair, large gold studs gleamed from her ears, and her feet sported fashionable black, high-heeled shoes. She carried a cloth-covered basket; but, even the colorful gingham cover could not contain the enticing aroma of the basket's contents.
Oh Claude! It's been so
long...I sure hope you're hungry...
She walked around to the rear of the Palace of Justice,
then took a key from around her neck. It was of the finest
sterling-silver, more like a work of art with its ornate
design; it was suspended from a wide, black velvet
She walked into the Palace, tip-toed up the steps to his chambers, and softly knocked. "Claude?", she sweetly called, "are you still asleep? I hope you're hungry. Claude?" She entered the room, walked over to the window were he was standing, and gently touched his cheek.
"Hey, sugarbritches. Why so silent this morning?" He looked at her blankly. Who is this, he wondered. The woman continued, "Well, I know you had a rough time yesterday...Baby, your eyes are all bloodshot..did you get ANY rest last night?" He watched her as she removed her cloak...Why didn't they tell me about her! I know nothing about...
She produced a container and two cups; she poured the contents. WHAT is that? Some strange, dark-brown liquid...Oh!...What an evil aroma it has....the Minister of Justice actually drinks such a concoction? He tried not to grimace as she offered him a cup.
"Here, sugar, drink this. I made it extra-strong, just the way you like it. Nothing like hot, strong coffee to take off the chill." Coffee...what is 'coffee'? He tentatively took a sip, then turned his face from her to conceal his disgust. Thank goodness she didn't notice...
She then offered him food;it was something that was completely foreign to him. "I baked these especially for you; I know how much you like my pecan muffins." Pecans?...what are they?...Damn those two!...Why didn't they inform me of...
"Er, I'm sorry, dear", he began, hoping she would fall for the ruse, "I'm...not quite hungry...perhaps later." She looked at him quizzically. "Honey, are you all right? It's not like you to turn down food...especially my food!" She then giggled as she approached him. "You must be really wiped out. Here, why don't you lie down, try to get some more rest..hmmm...I can read some poetry to you." He felt her arms embrace him; he couldn't help but stiffen at her touch.
"Claude, what is the matter with you?", she demanded. He had to quickly think of something, an excuse, anything to prevent the entire plan from being exposed. And this one SEEMS like the type: highly intelligent, keenly observant...
"You are right, dear", he said at last, "I am overly tired...er...why don't you run along home. I'll see you tomorrow." Her brown eyes widened in disbelief. "Claude, you know I always read to you when you're tired...", she smiled, continuing, "Would you rather hear a joke? Lord knows you need a good, hearty laugh." She embraced him again; he felt her lips touch his.
What is this?...why can't I feel
anything?...Now I know I shouldn't have let them talk me
Without thinking of the consequences, he
pushed her away. "Leave me!"
She couldn't believe her ears. "Claude...honey...what's WRONG with you?"
He had to speak quickly or risk everything. "My dear, I wish to be left alone, that is all."
She kissed his lips again; he tried with every fiber of his being to conceal his utter disgust...Oh, how he hated this strange creature standing before him. And what is that strange language? Her French is good enough, but that accent...it's so harsh...such an unpleasant twang and drawl...
Suddenly, she looked at him; her eyes
were bright with tears. At once, she gathered her things,
shook her head in disbelief, and swept from the room.
Now you've done it! She may be on her way to inform Phoebus...Never mind!...You were hired to be Claude Frollo...
He walked to the looking-glass, stared at the reflection and said, "You are Claude Frollo...I am Claude Frollo...I am Claude Frollo..."
A wicked smile spread across his face as he went to the window. He watched her hurry across the square; she'd better not tell a soul, or else. Take care of Paris first, then... He heard a servant call to him, "Your Grace, the guard is assembled and ready for your orders. Shall I inform Captain Phoebus that you are on your way?" He donned the famous triangular hat, adjusted its long red veil, and replied, "Tell the Captain I shall be there shortly." He took a long, hard look at himself.
"Well", he muttered, "here goes the real test."
She tried not to cry as she unlocked her front door. She
sat down in a chair; then at last, she softly wept.
"That was not my Claude", she sobbingly whispered. "Who was that? What's happened to my Claude?", she wondered out loud as she finally broke down in uncontrollable sobs.
Oh no! Claude Frollo's in a real bind. Will he survive? (of course he does -- but how?)
Because I can't leave well enough alone (LOL), I decided to add future installments of What Really Happened. Go right to Part 2 as FrolloFreak tries to escape a burning Paris, then she receives a mysterious message. Will she reach Her Man in time?
Copyrightę1997 by FrolloFreak