Authors: Annette Chaudet
Tags: #General Fiction
A NOVEL OF 18TH CENTURY FRANCE
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
The setting of this book is France. The characters are, for the most part, French with a few Italians in the mix. While some of the names are spelled the same as they are in English, they would be pronounced differently by French speakers. I invite you to hear the correct pronunciation in your head, as you read.
The Magniet Family
La Famille Magniet
La Fah-mee Man-yea
Louis le Baron de Beauvu Lou-ee luh Bare-on duh Bo-voo
Richard René Louis Magniet Ree-shard Ra-neigh Lou-ee Man-yea
Grégoire or “Grégré” Grey-gwar or “grey-grey”
le Marquis de Castillon luh Mar-kee duh Cass-ti-yawn
Cécile “Céci” Suh-seal “Say-cee”
Laurent Paulo Floriani “Lauro” Low-ron Pow-low Floor-ee-ahnee
Claude Gervais Cloud Jher-vay
Monsieur Pagni Muh-suheu Pahn-yee
Maryse Chabanier’s Household
La Famiglia DiClementi
La Fah-mee-lee-ya Dee-cla-men-tee
Christina Maria Antonia Sophia (as written)
Sylvie Bret (as written)
Guy Eugène Jonvaux’s Household
Ghee Ou-jhen Jhan-vo
Stefano Ferro Stef-a-no Farrow
Arabella Bonelli at the Cottage
The Establishment of Madame Dijol l’Hôtel Dijol Low-tell Dee-jhol
*French townhouses were called “hôtels” though they were private residences
Gabrielle Dijol Gab-ree-el Dee-joel
Monsieur Louvet Muh-suheu Lou-vey
Gérard & Isabelle Layglon Jhair-ard & Ee-sa-bell Lay-glon
Martine Tallendier Mar-teen Tahl-ahn-dee-eh
Dom Siguero Dohm See-gare-o
Cities and Towns
Hôtel de Ville Oh-tell Duh-veal (the city offices)
Bonifacio en Corse (on Corsica) Bow-nee-fass-see-oh on Course
Terms of Address, French and Italian
Monseigneur Mon-sin yur
(Maquis in French)
fragrant combination of shrubs that cover the hills of Corsica
For Christina, Arabella & Maryse,
...et lorsque je te retrouverai, je te réclamerai
à chérir de nouveau, pour toujours et à jamais.
...and when I find you, I’ll make you mine to love again, Time after Time.
The day was hot and clear. The eternal sun beat down on the barren landscape as it had since the beginning of time, but the people moving slowly about their business took no notice for the heat of that day was like any other. No more, no less.
He laid the heavy mud brick in place and stood up, wiping the sweat from his face as he glanced down at the narrow street below, squinting against the sunlight reflecting off the flat roofs. The houses of the town were plastered with the native soil, a part of the landscape, the same color as the low, dusty hills that ranged off toward the horizon in an endless parade of gently curving silhouettes. His eyes searched the group of girls coming back from the well, walking close together despite their awkward burdens, moving like a small flock of chickens, their heads bobbing and ducking to catch a word here and there, the day’s gossip and the easy confidences of the young exchanged with unhurried good humor.
He found her as she made her way up the street toward him, the shimmering waves of heated air distorting her beauty as she gracefully balanced the jug on her head with one slim hand. As she came closer she looked up, trying to pick him out in the group of laboring men who moved with such confidence over the web of scaffolding covering the expanse of the massive wall. When her eyes met his she smiled, her perfect white teeth flashing in startling contrast to her olive skin.
In that instant he felt all the warmth and radiance of her very soul reach out to him. Chrissa, he thought, God has truly blessed me in you.
His brother’s voice roused him and he opened his eyes to a huge pair of velvet nostrils only inches from his face. Richard instinctively pushed himself away, rolling over in the deep grass and causing his brother’s little bay mare to shy. Grégoire nearly lost his seat.
“A fine time to be sleeping, and in those clothes! The carriages have just turned off the road. Come or we’ll miss them!” The older boy offered his stirrup and his hand, easily pulling the five year old up behind him.
“I wasn’t sleeping,” Richard said, sliding his arms around Grégoire
s waist as the horse took off at an easy canter. He spoke with no emotion, as though he was not at all surprised to find himself among the lush growth of an orchard in the south of France rather than in an unknown but decidedly foreign desert town. “I was doing that Egyptian thing you taught me.”
Grégoire sometimes wondered if it had been a good idea to teach Richard how to put himself into the trance-like state. Their older brother, Robert, had learned it in Egypt years ago and—so Robert told him—the old physician who instructed him had praised its value as a means of alleviating pain.
“Nevertheless, you picked a poor time for it,” Grégoire scolded. “You’ve dirtied your clothes and Mama will be angry.”
Grégoire's words were lost on Richard. The little boy was thinking of the pretty young girl with the jug on her head.
The July sunlight filtering through the leaves of the ancient fruit trees dappled the ground beneath the mare’s hooves, prolonging the dream-like quality of the summer afternoon as they rode swiftly toward the house and Richard’s thoughts turned to the arriving carriages. By the time his brother handed the reins to the stableman, Richard was running full tilt toward the front drive.
“Where are the boys?” Madeleine asked as she and her husband went out into the heat of the day.
Cybelle, their nine year old daughter was right behind them.
had no doubt at about where her brother Richard was—doing something improper and probably dragging Grégré into it, as well! Carefully placing her white kid shoes on each step so as not to scuff them, the unsmiling little girl followed her parents down the stone steps of the formidable entrance to the château. She bit her lip and kept her thoughts about her little brother to herself. She was well aware that her father had no interest in hearing her suspicions about Richard misbehaving.
“Here they come now,” Louis said, beaming when he caught sight of his stepson and his youngest rounding the gate from the stableyard. He couldn’t keep from laughing as Richard stumbled and nearly collided with his parents.
“Oh Richard! Look at you!” Madeleine bent down and attempted to brush the leaves and grass from his green silk coat. “Where have you been? In the hayloft?” She shook her head in resignation as she noticed the muddied stockings and the very obvious lack of a silver buckle on one of his shoes.
“You know he hates being dressed like that, Mama,” Grégoire reminded her—as if his mother might have forgotten the hopelessness of trying to keep Richard properly attired.
The object of all this attention stood quietly, enduring his mother’s attempts to make his rumpled clothing look presentable and to remove still more bits of greenery from his dark curls. Just then, the first two carriages turned into the circular drive, the coarse gravel crunching beneath hooves and wheels as they pulled up at the front of the house.
“They’re here!” Richard cried, running toward the first carriage. He grabbed for the window when it passed, pulling himself up on the springy step as the driver reined in the horses.
Marcel and Vivian Jonvaux were startled by his sudden appearance at their window, but they both laughed. They looked forward to their yearly sojourn at the Baron’s beautiful estate and the relaxed atmosphere of a summer spent with friends and family. Their seven year old son, Guy, leaned forward pushing his straight blond hair out of his eyes and smiling tentatively at his friend. But before the boys could greet each other, the amused footman peeled Richard from the side of the carriage and openied the door for its passengers.
Richard, undeterred, flew to the next carriage where his friend Marco was leaning out the window, waving.
“Marco! Wait ’til you see!” Richard cried, anxious to share his news. “Animée had her foal! He’s beautiful!”
Richard’s family joined the Jonvauxs, and came to greet the DiClementi family. Four year old Marco was first out, bravely making the leap from step to ground without losing his balance. He was followed by his father, Antonio, who turned back to help Catharine. Signora DiClementi was holding an infant in her arms, wrapped in a gauzy robe and what seemed to be yards of lace trailing over the lavender watered silk of her skirts.