The following is based on Claude's and FrolloFreak's recollections. The second half is based on Jules' confession, as dictated to Jehan Frollo. (see Back to the Frollo Chapters 18-20)
Now I couldn't eat anything. I chased a stray grain of rice around my plate as Claude Frollo dropped this bombshell. That fake was Malus' father? How does Claude know? This doesn't make sense.
Claude moved his chair beside mine; he then put his arm around me, and
began to tell me about that man, and his relationship with Malus.
"Nisha, my love", Claude began, "I know I should have explained this to you, on that day you asked about the de Chateauper children." It was during that summer that Claude told me about the death of the kids' parents, the abuse and neglect Jules and Renee suffered at the hands of their brother, and how Malus fell into the wrong company.
"But Claude", I asked, still trying to put it all together,
"this man is Malus' father? How do you know?" Claude Frollo refilled
my teacup, kissed my mouth, then finally gave me the 'whole story'.
"Darling, that man, masquerading as me, was once a dear friend. He's Marie-Louise's brother."
I was more than mildly shocked. "Marie-Louise...d'Arcy?!" Claude nodded. "Jean-Michel du Champs and I became friends when I first came to Paris. His sister was always a favorite of mine -- as a friend."
Claude sipped his tea, then contiuned. "Marie-Louise was engaged to Andre d'Arcy at the time. Jean-Michel and I worked in the Ministry of Justice; however, Jean-Michel was not the most studious, nor was he as dedicated to his chosen profesion. Nonetheless, Jean-Michel and I became friends, we shared the same interests, and, of course the warm friendship of Andre d'Arcy."
Claude's mouth curved into a thin, wide smile; he then asked me, "Darling,
do you have any wine? This tea is not doing a thing for me."
I nodded, then produced a bottle of white wine from the fridge. I poured wine for the both of us. If Claude is going where I think he's going....We'll need this...
"Come on, honey", I said as I carried wine glasses, "let's
go sit by the fire. And bring the bottle."
Claude settled down by the fire and took a sip of wine. I stoked the
flames as he continued his recollection. "Did I tell you that Jean-Michel
had several faults?" Claude continued, "Well, he had several
mistresses, just as I indulged...well...still indulge my weakness for beautiful
women---such as you."
He smiled as I snuggled next to him on the couch. Claude cuddled me
as he continued his recollection.
"But instead of being discreet with his relationships, Jean-Michel flaunted his conquests."
"Were one of those conquests Malus' mother?", I asked, between sips of wine. Claude nodded again, "Yes. But I would hardly call it an 'affair'."
Claude then took a deep breath, then added, "What transpired between Jean-Michel and Adele Trigere nearly caused a major scandal within both the d'Arcy and du Champs families."
"What is going on down there?", called Marie-Louise d'Arcy
from the top of the stairs. Solange's screams and the subsequent commotion
had awakened Mme. d'Arcy.
Her husband, standing at the foot of the stairs, called up, "My
dear, it is nothing. Solange was in the kitchen." Andre d'Arcy had
no choice but to lie to his wife; the news of the intruder, and the resultant
murder of that person would only upset Marie-Louise.
Andre feigned a smile as he said, "Solange espied a rat near the hearth; you know how she hates rats." Marie-Louise smiled back, but she was not quite pleased with having her sleep disturbed. "Well, please come back to bed. It's after midnight, for Heaven's sake." Marie-Louise then went back to her room.
Andre then rushed to the grand hall where the intruder's body still
lied. Solange wept as a teen-aged boy, still holding a heavy shovel, told
Andre, "I saw him come in through the window. I brought this shovel
from the barn---just in case. Did I...?"
Andre d'Arcy, candle in hand, carefully examined the dead man. "I think he's gone. Hmm...doesn't look like any of the local boys. Here", he said to the boy, "help me turn him over."
Andre handed the candle to Solange, then the men carefully turned the dead man face-up. Solange held the candle closer; the boy's face blanched for he recognized the dead man right away.
"Malus!", gasped Jules, now in full realization of what he had done.
At once, Jules fell to his knees, and began to cradle his dead brother. "I've killed him! I've killed my brother!" Jules sobbed uncontollably.
Solange asked her uncle, "This is the horrid Malus de Chateaupers?
The one who beat his sister?"
Andre sadly nodded, then he took his niece aside, saying in a quiet voice, "My dear Solange, I think it's time you know the truth. Young Malus was your brother---Your father's first-born."
"Jean-Michel and I were attending a banquet---one of several given
in honor of Andre d'Arcy's engagement to Marie-Louise du Champs."
Claude began to recount the events leading up to the 'affair' that produced
Malus de Chateaupers, wrecked a friendship, and gave birth to a twenty-year
grudge that nearly ended Claude Frollo's life.
I refilled our wine glasses, and, without thinking, reached for, and
lit, a cigarette.
Claude's eyes registered both mild amusement and disappointment. He wrinkled his nose and said, "I thought you had stopped that awful habit."
"I did, but after what I've been through---what WE'VE been through---rescuing you and all, I deserve something", I said upon taking a nice, long drag. "Besides, I think I'll need alcohol AND nicotine after you finish this little 'Medieval Peyton Place'."
Claude laughed, the first laughter I heard ever since he emerged from
that dungeon cell. He cuddled me again, saying, "Well, I'll let you indulge
your little vices. Oh, I nearly forgot." Claude kissed me, then he
chuckled, saying, "My love, kindly rinse out your mouth before we
retire. The taste of wine on your breath is one thing, but tobacco..."
I returned his good-humor, kissed him, then asked him to continue his
story. He cuddled me close, then said, "I shall, but not before I
thank you for saving my life. I love you so, Danisha dear, and I've never realized
just how much I truly rely on you."
Claude Frollo kissed me again, and then, recalled the day he and Jean-Michel
du Champs became bitter enemies.
GO TO PART 9!
Copyrightę1998 by FrolloFreak FSM #14