Chapter 10

Written by: Jasmine Groves

Alexandre thundered towards the chateau on his horse frothing with sweat; he only hoped as he jumped a bocage hedge that he wouldn’t be too late.

The horse’s hooves made a clattering noise as shoes met cobblestones and his horse hammered into the courtyard. Before the beast was even completely stopped, he pulled his foot from the stirrup and dismounted.

A side door banged open and out of it raced Josephine, she appeared to be a bird as she leapt through the air towards him, he managed to catch her and to keep his balance as she dived at him.

Wrapping his arms around her, he became uncomfortably aware of his sweat and mud-soaked clothes. He held her away from him so he could see her and as he tilted her chin he noticed streaks of tears.

“Josephine, what has happened?” 

A sob wrenched from her chest followed by a small hiccup. “He found it, he found the brooch…” She swallowed. “He opened it. Once the marquis opened it,” she gulped, “the likeness is obvious.” 

She paused for breath and the tears rolled down her cheeks. “The marquis won’t have me now,” she wailed. “I’ll ruin his reputation which is important… I will be a fallen woman.” She put her hand to her mouth to stop the sobs. “When Phillippe died my heart broke and when I left Bastien I knew there was no going back.”

Josephine’s legs crumpled and she became a heap of fabric, shiny rosy pink against the dust on the cobbles. The General got down on one knee and held her hand to his lips declaring his love and desire to marry her.

A gasp escaped Josephine’s lips “Non,mon ami,  I would not burden you in this way.”

Alexandre chuckled and shook his head. “Josephine, I am old enough to be your father and too settled for a marriage to you. But I have news, and it is probably best that you are already sitting down, for it is quite the surprise.”

Her nose flared and her eyes sparkled with unshed tears. “Your son has a father, and you are not ruined.”

“That cannot be.” Tears once again flooded through Josephine, how could Aleixandre be so cruel when she was in such despair?

“It is madamemeosille – Phillippe lives, and he is but hours behind us in a coach with your son.”

“C’est possible?”

“Oui! I had to stop you before you married the Marquis. You can become a family.”

 

***

A year later Josephine sat to breakfast reading the newspaper with her father, a tea cup rested on her swollen belly and Bastien playing with wooden blocks at her feet, the filigree brooch nestled amongst the ruff of her gown

Josephine shivered as a breath whistled against her neck. “Ah wife, you are a sight my eyes shall never get tired of.” 

Looking up over her shoulder she smiled “J’adore Phillippe, forever.”