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


Chapitre Quinze

October 13, 1783

“Marie,” her father’s voice startled her, “come here for a moment. There is something I want to discuss.”
Marie entered the small ballroom, where her father was lounging in an armchair by the fire. He had been reading letters.
“What is it, father?”
Claude placed the envelopes beside him and looked at her. His eyes were greying and wise. “Your mother told me that you ruined your dress yesterday,” he finally said.
Marie lowered her head. “Yes, it was the robin-colored one. I told her I was sorry! We made an agreement that I will just have to wear that dress whenever I go to play with Jean. Then no more will get dirty!”
“Yes, Jean.” Claude stared at the fire. “You two have become very friendly.”
“Well, yes…”
“I am glad you have made a friend, Marie, but I worry that you may be spending too much time with Jean.”
“Why is that?”
He looked back at her and sighed. “People…people will talk Marie. It is not normal for a noble girl to be spending so much time with a peasant boy.”
“I understand.”
“Do you? I was not expecting such a tame reaction.”
“I do,” Marie folded her hands in front of her, “but I do not really care much of what those other people think of me. Jean and I are just friends.”
“Of course you are just friends, but why not spend some more time with others?”
“Like the Potier’s? No thank you.”
“Why not?”
Marie slumped over her father’s armchair. “They are so…so boring! I actually have fun with Jean. He kind of reminds me of Claude.”
Marie’s father laughed. “He reminds you of your brother? Oh Marie…”
“He does!”
“Jean is an alright boy. I have nothing against Jean, but some of the people around here do.”
“Those people do not really know him though!”
“I know,” Claude put up his hand, “let me finish. Jean is a fine boy, I am sure. But people have been talking…”
“About what?”
“Is it true that his sister became pregnant before her wedding?”
Marie’s face turned white. “Yes.”
“I have also heard that he and some of the other boys in the Triste District are thieves.”
“No. Not really, well not Jean anyway. He only stole to feed his sister…”
“Either way Marie, it looks bad. The people in the Triste District have a reputation of being dirty and disease-ridden. I am just not comfortable with you going there, especially alone.”
Marie stepped back. “What are you saying?”
Claude’s expression was serious. “I would like you to stop spending so much time with Jean.”
“Father, no!”
“Yes Marie! I do not mean completely. Maybe he can visit every now and then, but I do not want you going to that neighborhood!”
Marie’s eyes filled with tears. “You do not understand! He cannot just come and visit anymore. He has to work!”
“We can send him a formal invitation once a month –”
“Once a month?!” Marie cried. “Please, no…”
“Do not make me out to be the bad guy! Your mother and I both think it would be best. The neighbors keep asking about the two of you and we are all very concerned!”
“Why can they not mind their own business? Jean is not a thief and he is not diseased! Please, father!”
“Hush, Marie!” Claude’s voice was booming now. “You should be happy that we will let you see him at all! The Potier girls are coming over tomorrow. I suggest you try to be friendlier to them.”
Marie thought of a dozen hurtful things to say, but she knew she would not win. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and walked away quietly.
“Is something the matter?” The voice slithered around the stairwell.
“You told him, didn’t you?” Marie grumbled.
Edgard lifted one brow. “Told him what?”
“That Jean is a thief. And that his sister is pregnant. You told my father everything because you hate him.”
“I did not tell him anything mademoiselle.”
“You lie!” Marie’s arms shot out from her sides. She grabbed Edgard by coat and looked into his dark eyes. “Why do you hate him so much?”
“I am only trying to protect you mademoiselle.” He assured her. “But I promise you, I told your parents nothing.”
Marie pushed him away with a frustrated grunt. “I am going to my room for the night. Do not let anyone bother me.”
“As you wish, but just one more thing.”
“You lost the bet.”
Marie glowered at him. “I thought you had forgotten.”
“I never forget.”
“What do you want?”
“I want you to pose for one of my paintings.”
Marie grunted. “That sounds horrible.”
“There is said a whole day, correct?”
“Fine! One painting. A quick one!”
“Deal!” Edgard bowed slightly. “Tomorrow night, after the Potier’s have left.”
“Oh great, tomorrow shall be one of the best days of my life!” Marie exclaimed sarcastically. “Goodnight Edgard.”
“Goodnight Marie!” He said with a cheerful wave.