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


Chapitre Sept

“He’s home!” Clara shouted when her son walked through the door. She wrapped her arms around him and pecked his forehead. “And look! He’s all dressed up!”
“Maman…” Jean protested as he wiggled away.
“Go show your father your clothes!” Clara insisted.
Jean sighed and wandered over to his father, who was sitting on the wooden bench where they ate supper. He was hunched over in exhaustion, rubbing his blistered feet. His icy eyes, framed by deep-set wrinkles, followed Jean. “Mighty fine outfit you’ve got there,” he said.
“Nice collar!” Jean’s brother, Clair, snickered from the doorway of the second room.
Jean blushed. “I didn’t get to choose it, okay?”
“I think it looks lovely!” Clara defended as she caressed the thick fabric of his shirt. “And they even gave you a good pair of shoes! What did you do with Grandpére’s old fair?”
Jean gasped. “I left them Maman! Oh no!”
“Shhh,” she said, “don’t wake him!” They looked over at the old man. He was sleeping soundlessly in their only bed. “You can get them next time you visit!”
“But I don’t think I am going back…”
Clara’s voice became harsh. “Why not? Didn’t I tell you to be on your best behavior?”
“I was! I swear!” Jean defended. “It was Marie and her stupid friends! They started saying I was poor and didn’t own any shoes –”
“But that’s the truth,” Clair interjected, “you shouldn’t let a thing like that ruin your night.”
“Or a chance at a friendship with a noble girl!” Clara added. “Don’t you understand? If you befriend her, she will give you gifts. There will be more job opportunities for us. You may even end up with a job like that nice young man you brought in today!”
“Right, Edgard. He lives in that huge chateau with Marie and her family. He eats what they eat. He gets to enjoy many of the same luxuries –”
“But I don’t want to be like him!” Jean argued. “And I hate Marie and all those stuck-up nobles!”
“Jean! You will apologize to Marie de Beauharnais.” Clara commanded. “You will go there tomorrow and set things straight!”
“Think of your family, Jean,” his father pleaded.
Jean looked at his desperate eyes. He looked at his mother, his brother, and his sleeping grandfather, whose days were numbered. Then he looked in the corner, where his sister, Laure, sat on the pile of blankets where she slept. Her sandy-blonde hair was unbrushed and her blue eyes were wild.
“Okay…” Jean said.