Authors: Nicola Italia
The Sheik's Son
Also by Nicola Italia
The Sheik and the Slave
The Tea Plantation
The Sheik's Son
By Nicola Italia
Copyright © 2014 by Nicola Italia
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
A special thank you to Reneh Agha for his technical abilities and Marvin Henriquez for his cover artwork.
The Sheik’s Son
several characters who actually lived during the time make an appearance. I have them listed here:
Salonist and writer Suzanne Curchod also known as Madame Necker and her daughter Germaine.
French historian and writer Jean-François Marmontel, French playwright and critic Jean-François de La Harpe and Naturalist and mathematician Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.
For my main character Sophie Gauvreau, I used as my inspiration the life and writings of Olympe de Gouges. Olympe lived during the revolution and was a French playwright, political activist and feminist. I used several of Olympe’s pamphlet writings as Sophie’s. Sadly Olympe was executed in November 1793.
Finally, there is a small amount of French used in this book but for the most part it is basic French and does not require translation.
Table of Contents
Paris, France, 1788
Sophie dipped the goose-quill pen into the ink and her cursive writing flowed over the linen paper. She had recently cut the nib of the quill pen with a sharp penknife and it now worked nicely—her previous pen had become worn and had not been of much use. Now she moved quickly over the cream-colored paper, filling it up with her thoughts.
She felt a fierce headache building in her temples but continued to write. She was furious with her grandmother, who treated her like a wayward child, and her father, whom she knew loved her but spent much of his day working. As her mother had died in childbirth, she had been raised by her
, a traditional woman who expected the same of her granddaughter.
However, Sophie was anything but traditional. She saw the world as a fluid, moving thing and she wanted very much to be a part of it. She wanted the world to change. She wanted to be judged less by her gender and more by her brain, her thoughts and her intelligence. Sophie knew her grandmother wanted her to marry Alphonse and though she had grown up with him, she had no desire for him. He was very quiet and subdued and not interested in the world around them. She wanted an equality of mind and spirit with the man she would eventually marry.
Dipping her pen into the ink well, she marked her words line after line as her thoughts became words and the words would change those who read them. She smiled. Yes. These words would change those around her.
Eugenie watched her son move around his desk and shuffle several papers before sitting down to face her. She knew that he detested this sort of discussion but she could put it off no longer.
“Jean Pierre,” she began.
“Yes, Mother?” he returned.
She could hear that his voice was strained and she winced. She did not want to cause him pain or undue harm, but his daughter must be dealt with.
“Son,” she began again, and this time he looked up.
This time, he leaned back slightly in his chair and returned her gaze. “What is it, Mother?”
Eugenie knew that she owed much to her son. Her husband had died shortly before Sophie was born and she had joined his household to help him raise his infant daughter. Danielle had died during a very difficult childbirth and it had been too much for Jean Pierre. As a lawyer in Paris, he did well for himself and was able to provide a comfortable home for his mother and daughter.
She had relished the role of grandmother and surrogate mother as she had given birth to three sons and saw only one survive childhood. But Sophie had been a gifted girl who had enjoyed an education as well as the arts her grandmother made certain she excelled at. Sophie had blossomed into a beauty with dark auburn hair and hazel eyes that reminded Jean Pierre of his lost wife, Danielle.
As the only child, Sophie had a certain amount of freedom but Eugenie had made it known from a very young age that while she would let Sophie indulge in books and reading, when the time came, she would marry and be a proper Parisian wife.
Sophie had been introduced at all the proper parties and caught the eye of many eligible men, but none had captured her heart. So at 24 years old, Sophie Gauvreau remained unmarried. To Eugenie, it was shocking and unacceptable.
“We must speak about Sophie.” Eugenie spoke quietly.
Jean Pierre sighed. “Must we? Well, if we must.”
“Yes, Jean Pierre, we must. I have been lenient with her and you have been as well. She runs wild!” Eugenie said, exaggerating a little.
“Wild?” He raised an eyebrow at his mother.
“Well, not exactly wild. But very free,” she conceded.
Jean Pierre looked over the paperwork that covered his desk and sighed inwardly. He felt he should be taking care of business and France, not worrying about his daughter. Sophie was a dear sweet girl and his mother was merely traditional. They had been butting heads, he knew, for the past two years—ever since Sophie had turned down another marriage proposal.
“I see,” he allowed.
“And you will agree it is more than time for her to marry,” Eugenie countered.
“If Sophie wishes to marry then she will marry. If she doesn’t, I will not force her,” Jean Pierre concluded.
Eugenie sank into her chair a little before regaining herself. “But, my dear, what would you have her be—an old maid?”
Jean Pierre eyed his mother, sitting before him. She was short and had put on weight, but she still retained the charm and sophistication Parisian women seemed to exude. At 70, her eyes were quick and keen and her dark hair was now grey, but she had been a loving mother and he cared deeply for her.
“What has brought this on?” he probed.
Eugenie looked away from her son and then returned his gaze. “Alphonse. We have spoken.”
“Sophie won’t like you making decisions behind her back.”
“Of course I’m not!” Eugenie replied, indignant.
“Mother,” he cautioned.
“I’m concerned for her. I met Alphonse by chance at a ball. They danced together and she introduced us. I remember him as a child. He hasn’t changed that much, still somber and quiet.”
Jean Pierre waited for her to continue.
“He was quite taken with her. He told me so. He said he had always admired her and that she had grown into a beauty,” she said, smiling.
“Yes. She looks very much like her mother.” Jean Pierre glanced at a small painting on his desk. Danielle had been only 18 at the time of their engagement, so full of life and promise.
“I would like you to talk to her. She will listen to you,” Eugenie said.
Jean Pierre would have liked to agree with his mother, but he did not. Sophie had a strong will and a mind of her own. She was intelligent and, had she been a man, she would have brought Paris to heel. As it was, he was concerned about her future and knew that time was not on her side. She should marry. He agreed with his mother, though he was reluctant to speak to Sophie, who would not like the fact that they were discussing her future without her.
Jean Pierre sighed. “I will speak to her,
,” he told his mother gently. “But Sophie does have her own mind and she knows it well.”
Eugenie stood and moved around the desk to lay a hand on her son’s shoulder.
“Thank you,” she said, kissing him on his cheek.
Eugenie knew she had achieved much, so she said no more. She smiled at her son; though his hair was graying at the temples, he was still attractive, with soft brown eyes and salt-and-pepper hair. He had never remarried after Danielle’s death and she had often wondered why. She eyed the small painting on his desk and moved away again, leaving him alone in his library.
Danielle had been a sweet child eager to please her young husband and make a good wife. She had married at 18 years old and became pregnant right away. Jean Pierre had been delighted and thrilled at the prospect of a young wife and child. He had picked out several names, including naming the unborn babe after his father or grandfather. But after the baby girl had been born and Danielle had died after a night of agonizing pain, he had lost interest in everything.
His mother had joined his small household in Paris to raise the young baby girl. Jean Pierre had taken his young wife’s death very hard and had found solace in drink. A year passed before he regained his footing and it was only his profession as a lawyer with the prestigious Ferme générale that had given him some stability.
The Ferme générale collected duties on behalf of the king under contract and many in its employ became very wealthy in doing so. As a young lawyer, Jean Pierre had done extremely well for himself.
Though his work and those who collected taxes were not popular, imposing various taxes on land, salt, wine and tobacco, his lucrative position allowed him a comfortable life and his daughter and mother benefitted from it as well.
He had never remarried after Danielle’s death because he never wanted to. Danielle had been an angel, pure and innocent, and he had been very much in love for the brief time they had been joined in matrimony. Once she had died, a part of him died as well.
When his mother joined his household, he had truly felt a burden lifted from his shoulders. He loved his daughter as any father would, but he did not know how to raise a small infant and did not want to learn. He knew in his mother’s hands Sophie would be well loved, and so she was.
Sophie exhibited a quick mind and intelligence from an early age and Jean Pierre indulged her. He did not want to argue with his mother over these trivial details, but he also knew his mother was from another era. She did not understand that Sophie may yearn to be a wife and mother, as was natural, but she also yearned for more. In that respect, she was like her father.
He climbed the stairs to Sophie’s bedroom, which overlooked the Seine River. The comfortable home allowed him to entertain those he worked with, but it was also intimate enough for the family to enjoy their time alone. He engaged a cook, two maids, two footmen and a butler. When his mother held a formal dinner party, they would often bring help in for that evening.
Jean Pierre knocked softly on Sophie’s door and she called out permission to enter.
He saw his daughter bent over her desk, writing in a quick manner. Her handwritten words skimmed over the papers, and he closed the door behind him.
“Yes, Father, please—one moment.” She was in the middle of a great thought and took care to make sure the entirety of it was captured on the linen paper. Satisfied, she placed the quill pen down upon her desk and turned to her father.
He smiled at his daughter. She was a beauty. Her dark auburn hair and hazel eyes were striking in her oval face, with its creamy complexion. She had a trim figure and her beauty made him proud to call her daughter.
“Writing in your diary?” he noted absently.
Sophie nodded. She knew her father and grandmother would not understand so she eluded their more serious concerns by telling them that she found solace in a diary. In truth, she did. She found great solace in placing her more radical thoughts down on paper, and she had already decided that she would write under the pen name Jean Inconnu—Jean
. Sophie was convinced that her writings were good enough to be printed into a pamphlet. She had made some cautious inquiries into finding a printer and had finally secured one. Her dear maid, Marie, would deliver them to the printer when they were complete. All she needed to do was finish it.
“Yes, I am.”