One of the intriguing new characters in The Temple of Paris is a dwarf who seems to be following Alex all over Paris. In the scene below, Hana and Alex spot the little man in the Madeleine Church.
Excerpt from The Temple of Paris
I squeeze Alex’s hand and point. It’s the little man from the Pantheon. The dwarf. I recognize the thick, dark hair flopped over to the side. He’s exchanged the suit and bow tie for jeans and a turtleneck.
Alex tugs me down into a chair. “That’s the guy who’s been following me!” We crouch behind a large family filling the row in front of us.
“Who is he?” I ask. “He’s definitely looking for someone.”
“Yeah,” Alex notes grimly. “Me.”
“But why? And how would he know you’d be here?”
Alex . . . puts his hands on his thighs. “I’m going to find out.” He starts to stand.
“No.” I pull him back down. “He could be dangerous.”
Alex keeps the dwarf in his line of sight. “Nah. I have this feeling he’s kind of looking out for me, you know?”
“I don’t know,” I reply. “And neither do you. All we know for sure is that he’s creeping around after you. We can’t just go over to meet him.”
“Not we.” Alex pats my hand. “I’m going to talk to him.”
“That’s a bad idea, Alex.” I can tell from the determined look on his face that he’s not listening.
“What’s he gonna do in the middle of a crowded church full of tourists? I’m just going to find out why he’s been following me.”
“And what am I supposed to do?” I really don’t like this plan.
“You stay right here.” He nods toward an elderly lady sitting a few chairs away from us. “Granny over there will look after you.”
“You’re not funny, Alex.”
He gives me a hug and stands up. “I’ll be right back.” I watch him weave through the rows of chairs. As Alex nears the podium, the man sees him. A look of surprise, bordering on panic, crosses his face. Alex climbs the steps until he’s right next to the dwarf. He bends down to hear something the little man says. They walk down the steps. I stand to see where they’re going. Alex turns and motions to me. “Stay there,” he mouths, giving a thumbs-up.
I feel helpless as Alex and the little man disappear behind the columns near the altar. How long am I supposed to wait? What if Hank Riggins is back there, poised to kidnap Alex? I take a deep breath and try to calm down. Someone taps me on the shoulder. When I turn around, I am staring into the face of a ghost.
One of the new characters in The Temple of Paris is a dwarf named Jepp who served as a jester to the astronomer, Tycho Brahe, in the late 1500s. The painting below is of another dwarf jester who was at the court of Philip IV of Spain, Sebastian de Morra, but this is how I imagine Jepp looked.
Neither the dwarf below nor Jepp were treated very well, as the look on the man’s face below seems to indicate.
Here’s a conversation between Jepp and Alex from The Temple of Paris in the Café Car on a train. It’s based, in part, on a legendary story about Tycho Brahe and a beer-drinking elk:
“Tycho Brahe was my master, and I, his loyal servant.” Jepp looks through the window at the shadowy landscape rushing by. “If I look back with today’s sensibilities,” he continues, “I see a somewhat abusive relationship.” His lips curve into the slightest of smiles. “Ah, but when I put myself in the shoes I used to wear, I laugh at the hijinks and shenanigans. Tycho was not only a brilliant astronomer. He had a tremendous sense of humor.” Jepp’s face darkens slightly. “True, I was often the butt of the joke, but, I do not think I minded.”
“What do you mean by shenanigans?” Alex asks, gathering up another handful of the French fries on his tray.
“Suffice to say they entailed much drinking of alcohol and tomfoolery with household pets.” Jepp takes a long sip of his bubbly water.
“Pets?” Alex raises an eyebrow. “Like the wolfhound under the table?” He chews the fries.
“Tycho’s favorites were the elks,” Jepp says.
“Oh.” Alex’s eyes brighten. “The elks were household pets? As in deer with large horns?”
“There was one with particularly large horns.” Jepp suppresses a chuckle
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