Status: Currently working on - hope to finish by the end of the summer.


Chapitre Treize

October 3, 1783
“There you are!” Marie ran to Jean and took his hands in hers. “You look great.”
“I don’t feel great,” Jean admitted.
Marie sighed. “I won’t let you feel left out, okay?”
“But I already feel left out,” he peered around Marie’s shoulder; “Don’t you know my brother is working here tonight?”
“He is?!”
“Yes,” Jean confirmed, “Edgard hired him as extra help when he dropped off the invitation.”
Marie’s face went pale. “I see.”
“How many people are here again?”
“Jean,” Marie squeezed his hands, “I need you to not talk to your brother.”
“At least not too much. Do not make it look questionable, alright?”
“Please, just do this for me.” Marie begged. “I did you a favor, didn’t I?”
Jean nodded.
“Good! Now let’s go into the theatre room. That’s where my cousins are.” She attempted to pull him away but he jerked her back.
“I am scared.”
“Please do not be scared. They are just people, like you and me. Come on!”
Jean let her drag him through the foyer, past a number of gossiping women, and into a large ballroom with a stage. There was a long table decorated with a floral tablecloth. A couple of the extra hired men were standing behind it, ready to pour drinks for the guests.
“That is them in the corner,” Marie turned Jean’s head to the left.
There was a sofa under a magenta-colored canopy. As Marie led Jean closer, the figures on the inside began to move around, revealing half of a face, a few ringlets of brown hair, a shiny black shoe, until Marie tugged the drapes aside and the pieces came together. There were two men and a woman, all of them with curly brown hair and attractive faces.
“Hi Marie,” the woman said with a warm smile.
The men stood and greeted them. The older one had long hair and a quiet yet demanding presence, the younger one was more boyish and outgoing. They both towered over Jean.
“This is my friend, Jean.” Marie introduced.
They put out their hands and shook his. “I am François,” the younger one said, “and this is my brother, Alexandre, and his wife, Josephine.”
“Charmed,” the woman greeted. She reached out her hand and Jean kissed it. He thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
“Sit, both of you,” François urged, “my brother and I can stand.”
Josephine scooted over for Marie and Jean. They sat while the two brothers stood and sipped on glasses of wine. Alexandre had a military medal on his coat. He seemed to be studying Jean.
“We were just discussing the Queen’s new bathroom!” Josephine told them.
“Bathroom?” Marie echoed. “Why do we care about her bathroom?”
“Jean-Henri Riesener designed it.” François informed her, “You should see the sketches; it is incredible.”
“Oh yes, come to think of it, I have seen some of his work!” Marie recalled. “He is very talented.”
“What do you think of him Jean?” François asked.
Jean gave him a blank look. “Um…I’m not familiar with him, honestly.”
“You really ought to be!” Josephine reached over and tapped his knee. “There is no one like him!”
“And no one like Queen Marie, for that manner.” François added.
“I absolutely love her! She is so stylish!” Marie awed.
“Have you seen the chemise gowns she has been wearing lately?” Josephine questioned enthusiastically.
“Seen them? I have two of my own!”
“Aren’t they just lovely?”
“What I love best about them is they are so comfortable,” Marie added, “I feel rather minimalistic when I wear them, but it still looks so elegant on the Queen.”
“She is beautiful no matter what she wears.”
“I will have to agree with that.” Alexandre said with a cheeky smile.
“Me too. How about you Jean?” François asked. “Have you ever seen the Queen in person?”
Jean shook his head. Marie squinted at François.
“Would you mind speaking alone for a moment?” She said in a serious tone.
“Of course not! Let’s step out on the back porch. I love it there.”
He reached out his hand and escorted Marie away. Jean readjusted himself on the coach while Josephine smiled at him. “Did François bother you dear? You will have to excuse him, he can be overbearing.”
“It’s fine.” Jean assured her.
“You have never been to a party like this, have you?”
“No.” He answered quietly. He folded his hands in his lap and looked around. There were so many men and women, all dressed in the height of fashion, and he felt so small.
Josephine took out her fan. “You are doing just fine.”
Alexandre sat down between them. He seemed to be in deep thought.
“What is that badge for?” Jean asked.
Alexandre’s face rearranged completely, and Jean quickly regretted asking him. He felt completely ignorant. Alexandre’s dark eyes searched Jean for a moment, then he smiled at him. “I fought in the war.”
“Really? Was it scary?”
“For most people, yes.”
“But not you?”
Josephine grabbed her husband’s hand and squeezed. “I do not think Alexandre is afraid of anything.”
“Except girls,” he said with a laugh, “I am still working on that one.”
“Girls? Girls cannot be anywhere near as scary as war!”
“Yes, they can. But you will find that out soon enough.”
Jean turned and saw his brother at the table. “Will you excuse me?” He asked the guests.
“Of course!” Josephine chimed. “In case we do not see you again, it was lovely meeting you, Jean.”
“Same with you,” he said. He shook hands with Alexandre once more then stumbled through the crowd. He felt several pairs of eyes following him.
“Hey Clair!” He shouted when he reached the table.
Clair laughed. “Sorry, I am not used to seeing you all dressed up.” The man standing next to him gave him a nasty look. “I mean, would you like some wine, sir?”
“No, I just wanted to talk.”
“I can’t talk right now. I’m working.”
Jean leaned in and lowered his voice. “Please? Marie left. I do not know what to do.”
“Go find her!”
Jean pouted and left the ballroom. He circled around the foyer, passing the same people twice, then finally decided to peek out of the window to the back porch. Marie and François were standing there alone, talking, holding each other’s hands.
“Is something the matter Jean?” Edgard put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “You should not look out the window like that. People will think you are rude.”
Jean looked up at him. “Marie left with François. I was checking to see if they were still out there.”
Edgard clicked his tongue. “You should probably let them have their alone time.”
“Alone time?”
“Did you not know? François is Marie’s most likely suitor.”
Jean froze. He watched François and Marie hug. “You mean they are going to get married?”
“Likely, yes.” Edgard said with a smirk. “Anyway, I must go check on Fanny and Claude. Enjoy the rest of the party!”
Edgard drifted away. In fact, everyone seemed to drift away. Jean turned and started for the door. There were several people in his way, and when he pushed passed them, he did not apologize.
“What a rude child!” Someone exclaimed.
“What a rude girl.” He mumbled.
♠ ♠ ♠
This chapter will have to be heavily edited, but I had to get through it.