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


Chapitre Deux

Moments Later
“There!” Antoine shouted suddenly. He swung his arm out in front of Marie’s neck, nearly knocking her off of Bruno. “There is inspiration for your writing!”
Marie blinked in the direction he was pointing. “You mean those boys by the orange stand? What’s so interesting about them?”
“Why don’t you look a little closer?” Antoine suggested with a crooked smile, “I am going to go ahead and buy the jams.”
Marie left him reluctantly and rode closer to the boys. She stopped at a jewelry cart and looked over a few necklaces, all the time sneaking peaks at the subjects. They had filled their arms with fruit and were waiting their turn to pay. Then, suddenly, they took off in a wild sprint!
The orange seller yelled “thieves, thieves!” and gestured frantically in their direction. Everyone else continued with what they were doing, as if nothing significant had happened.
Being curious and hungered for excitement, Marie jumped onto her horse and started in their direction. The jewelry merchant found her behavior suspicious and began to cry out, as if Marie had been in cahoots with the boys all along! Not knowing what to do, she sped away, meeting the real thieves in a field of tall grass.
“Hey!” She hollered after them, “What do you think you are doing?”
One of the boys, the taller, brown-haired one, turned around and threw an orange at her! She pulled Bruno’s reigns, stopping abruptly in the middle of the field. Her mouth hung open in disbelief.
“What was that for?” She screamed.
The boys looked over their shoulders and laughed.
Marie began to shake with anger. She kicked Bruno’s side and he leaped towards the boys, quickly reaching one and cutting him off. Marie dismounted and grabbed the back of his shirt. “What is the matter with you? I should turn you in, you no-good thief! I should tell my father –”
“Let him go!” The brunette boy pleaded. He bent over and began to pant. His olive skin was sweaty. “He didn’t…he didn’t mean any harm.”
“Why should I do that?” Marie questioned. She yanked her captive closer and he dropped all of his oranges.
“He doesn’t have the money for food. He has a sister at home and a sickly grandfather –”
“I don’t feel sorry for thieves!” Marie insisted. “And what about you? You threw an orange at me! A lady! Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?”
The boy’s scared expression suddenly transformed into a knowing smile. “Argh!” He exclaimed, “What be these manners ye speak of?”
“She’s after me booty, Matey!” The other boy joined.
“What did you say?!” Marie turned her hostage over to look at him, “After your –?”
The boy erupted into a fit of laughter that made the freckles on his sunburnt nose dance. His blond hair, which fell in front of his left eyebrow and puffed out at the ears, bounced each time he gasped for air. He opened his eyes and they were green, the same green as the grass around them. He was…
“Beau,” Marie whispered. She let go of him and he fell to the ground, still laughing. “What is going on?” She asked, baffled.
“We aren’t really thieves,” the brunette boy explained, “we are just playing a game!”
“A game?”
“Pirates!” He said proudly.
The other boy leaped up and pulled a stick from the waist of his pants. “En garde!” He boomed, pointing it towards his friend.
From his jacket, the other boy retrieved a similar weapon. “You’re no match for me!”
The two boys began to play-fight. They swung at each other, rolled around in the grass, and screamed obscenities. Marie was speechless. She had never seen such unruly behavior.
That’s when she looked up and saw that she had wandered far away from the market. Behind her was a hill and before her was a series of tiny houses. Tired-looking women were sitting on the porches, sewing, their hands moving rhythmically. Children, dirty and nearly naked, were gathering around her with curious faces.
“Where did she come from?”
“What is she wearing?”
Marie glanced down at her white muslin dress and realized what an indecent display she must have been. The mothers were gawking at her from the porches. “Oh, I…” She murmured. She backed away and reached for Bruno’s reigns.
“Who’s the greatest pirate now, ye Scalawag?”
Marie’s audience turned their attention towards the commotion. The brunette boy had pinned his blond friend down and was holding a stick to his neck, as if it were a knife. “Do you surrender?”
“Never!” His opponent roared as he slapped the stick away.
It flew into the air and twirled for what seemed like days before coming down onto the head of a dirty little girl. “Louis!” She whined, “I’m telling Mom!” Then she ran towards one of the houses and the brunette boy trailed after her.
The blond boy picked himself off of the ground and brushed the dirt off his legs. He then began to gather the oranges, cradling them in his shirt. Marie picked up a couple and offered them to him. “So, are you going to return them now?”
He looked at her like she was crazy. “No.”
“No? But you still stole them!”
He snickered. “What’s your name?”
“Marie de Beauharnais, what’s –?”
“Knew it.”
“Knew what?”
“Nothing. Ask me my name.”
“Fine. What’s your name?”
“Jean.” He said.
“Jean what?”
“Jean-Jean?” Marie gasped. “That’s silly!”
He snatched up her oranges and carried them into one of the little houses. Marie looked around, unsure of what to do with herself. Some of the children were still staring. When he came back, he looked surprised that she was still there. “What do you want?”
“I want you to teach me to play pirates?”
“Really?” He gave her a suspicious look. “Do you have a sword?”
“My father has plenty of swords. He was a naval officer!”
“I meant a stick. You’re silly.”
“Oh no, I don’t have one of those on me.”
“We’ll find you one!” He said eagerly, but then he looked around and sighed. “Not tonight, though. I will have to help make dinner soon.”
Marie frowned. “You make dinner?”
“Well, Mama and Laure do most of the work…”
“Oh –”
“But we can play some other time right? I’d like to see your dad’s swords.”
“Yes, of course! I wish you could…wait…maybe you can tonight! My parents are having the neighbors over for dinner. You should come too!”
“Really?” His eyes widened.
“Sure. Why not?”
“There she is! There she is!” Someone shouted.
Marie and Jean turned to see two men in embroidered frock-coats galloping down the hill. They looked almost identical, both with handsome faces, pointed noses, and straight black hair that touched their shoulders. One had a mustache and hair on his chin, the other had none.
“Antoine! Edgard!” Marie greeted.
“Marie!” Antoine called, “We have been looking everywhere for you!”
“You have?” Marie looked down at her feet, embarrassed, “I am sorry. I really am. I was making a friend, you see…”
Edgard glanced over at the boy and snorted. “I do see!”
Antoine, recognizing the little thief from the market, sucked his lips in and tried to remain silent.
“…and I have invited him to dinner!” Marie revealed.
“Oh?” Edgard questioned with lifted brows.
“Oh…” Antoine echoed, his face pale.
“Well, I am afraid we have to hurry back to the chateau with the groceries,” Edgard started carefully, “and your new friend does not look ready for –”
“How about Antoine and I carry the groceries back?” Marie suggested. “You can stay here while Jean gets ready, then you can escort him home!”
Edgard looked baffled. “Marie, I don’t think that would be the best idea…”
“And why not?!” Marie demanded. “Father told me that I should try to make friends and he said I was welcome to have them over for supper!”
“You don’t seem to understand!” Edgard huffed, his face red.
Antoine leaned in and began to whisper in his ear. They went back and forth for a few moments while Marie and the boy waited uneasily. Then Edgard’s shoulders dropped and he gave in. “Very well, Mademoiselle,” he said, “I shall have him brought over for dinner.”
“Oh thank you! Thank you!” She turned towards Jean, “I’ll see you at dinner. Then we can look at Dad’s swords!”
She hopped onto Bruno and followed Antoine away. By the time she had looked back, Jean had gone inside of his house and Edgard was standing on the porch, his arms crossed. Antoine was tense the entire way home.
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Thanks for reading. :)