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


Chapitre Cinq

“Close your eyes,” Marie whispered to Jean as she grabbed his hand.
He looked at her and at the two Potier girls, trying to decipher their expressions, but they all seemed blank. His heart began to race and his palms were sweating, but he shut his eyes and tried his hardest not to peak as Marie led him around the foyer.
“Where are we going?” Madeleine, the younger Potier, asked. Her voice was nasally.
“It is a surprise for Jean,” Marie explained. “You will like it as well. It is right over here.”
“Oh lovely!” Charlotte exclaimed. “And to think you have only been here for a week!”
“Open your eyes,” Marie told Jean.
When he opened his eyes, he saw the Potier sisters admiring the golden detail on the window treatments. They were in a ballroom with powder-blue walls and a large fireplace. Hanging around the fireplace was a number of swords, guns, and military decorations.
Jean squealed and went to them. “There are so many!”
“We actually had more, but my brother took some of them with him to Vendée.”
“Will you get some when you are married?” Jean asked.
Marie thought for a moment. “I do not think so. My husband will probably have several of his own. But maybe if my father –”
“I’d like to have one someday,” Jean interrupted. His voice was somber and his shoulders were slumped. He ran his fingers over one of the long, steel blades.
Watching Jean yearn for something he would never have sent a chill down Marie’s spine. Charlotte and Madeleine looked at each other with knowing expressions. Jean would never own much more than the clothes on his back. Everyone there, even Jean, knew that.
“How about we go out on the porch!” Marie suggested. She went to Jean and grabbed his hand. His fingers were numb.
“Wonderful idea,” Charlotte said.
When they went back into the foyer, they heard muffled conversation and the clicking of silverware against plates; the servants were having their supper. Edgard and a few others peaked out at them. Jean felt like an exotic animal being tugged around by his masters.
“Here we are!” Marie announced as she opened the patio doors. They all stepped outside. Charlotte, Madeleine, and Marie sat on the bench beside the door. Jean leaned against one of the rails.
“It is really such a lovely view,” Madeleine admired.
“Even better during the daytime! What do you think, Jean?” Charlotte asked.
Jean looked out at the rows of grape vines and could not find their end. The sun had completely gone and the crickets were chirping. “It’s the beautifulest thing I’ve seen.” He said with a sigh.
“The beautifulest?” Marie repeated with shock. “You should see my old home in Brittany!”
“I have heard that Brittany is a stunning place. I would love to go some day.” Charlotte added.
“And I would like to return some day,” Marie said in a low voice, “I could see the ocean from my bedroom window. And there were so many handsome sailors at Brest!”
“Did they wear outfits like this?” Madeleine pointed to Jean.
Marie smiled. “No. Not most of them, anyway. The outfit Jean is wearing was actually my brothers!”
Jean spun around and looked at her with desperate eyes. “You knew? Antoine said you wouldn’t recognize it! That Claude barely wore it!”
“How would I not recognize my own brother’s clothes? He and Anne were my best friends growing up!”
Jean’s face turned bright red.
“What is the matter?” Charlotte questioned with a faux-innocent smile. “Were you trying to trick us into thinking you are noble?”
“Do you not remember? You have worked for us before!” Madeleine explained. “You and your brother. If I remember correctly, you did not have any shoes…”
Marie realized she had made a mistake. She sat stiff with her heart pounding against her chest, and listened as Charlotte and Madeleine went on about their recollections of Jean. He was a peasant from the “Triste District”, or a large neighborhood that housed the poorest of the third estate. Last time they had seen him he was wearing patched clothing and he was working without any shoes. His family barely gets by, considering the “circumstances” (which they did not elaborate), so their parents gave him some food to take home.
“Shut up!” Jean cried. He stomped his foot, gave Marie a sneer, then jumped off the side of the porch.
“Hey!” Marie called after him, “Where are you going? Edgard was going to take you home!”
He ran out of sight without looking back. When Marie turned around, Charlotte and Madeleine were laughing. “What did you expect?” They said.
Marie did not sleep that night.
♠ ♠ ♠
Sorry for the late post! More coming soon! :)