Chapter 3

Written by: Anna Zhigareva

The Général’s forces had been sent to the nearby village of Dijon to maintain peace within the fiery French community. Though the King revered the Marquis, treated him as his own son, and hence had entrusted great lands to him, greater than his family had ever possessed, tensions had surfaced in the little town a mile shy of the Bourgogne-Auvergne border.


The matter lay in the following: the lands of the Marquis were vast, enveloping a sizeable portion of the north-east of Auvergne. Under the King’s protection, the Marquis managed successful crop farms and fed numerous communities in Auvergne, provided labour and apprenticeships, and a confident, idolised head at the forefront of it all. He was a good man, and he loved the people of Auvergne. Yet the lands bestowed to him by the King also included several fields crossing over to Bourgogne. Though recently unpopulated, this area had once belonged to an old farming family who harvested the land and grew great bull stock on the fields. The farm had burnt down mysteriously the summer before, leaving the Dijon community to struggle through a tough winter without the crops and meat the land had always provided. The King, ignoring the townspeople’s pleas to grant them permission to have the land and tend it back to a fertile state, gifted it as a project for the Marquis, asking him to do what he willed there. A gift to the Marquis, a terrible loss for the people of Dijon. 


As soon as the riots started forces were dispatched, the Général explained to Josephine. So here they were, and had arrived just in time to see Josephine’s carriage disappear in the bubbling waters of the river.


“Pardon my bluntness, Général,” Josephine spoke as they rode across the border to Auvergne, trees masking the very fields the Général had been speaking of so that she could not make out any activity on the recovering lands, “but what is the Marquis doing with the land?”


“Well, Dame Annise Yves d’Aquitaine, I believe the amiable Marquis would love to tell you himself!” The Général’s breath tickled the small hairs on the back of Josephine’s neck and goose bumps rose along her arms as she struggled to suppress her gasp. They rode his horse together, Josephine sat sideways on a skilfully attached cushion, huddling in a blanket against the crispy air that made her skin tingle, while the Général had his arms wrapped around her, his hands firmly holding the reins.


They had trotted most of way. Josephine would normally have dreaded such a journey, shaky gait, the cold air, but with Général Alexandre she felt secure. But although she had a temporary cover, all would be unveiled as soon as the Marquis recognised her. She needed time. Closing her eyes, she suddenly slumped her body back into the folds of the Général’s coat, feigning unconsciousness. As she heard him gasp and pull up his horse, she prayed her plan would work.


Terrific back story. Your chapter is full of interesting twists and turns. I could feel the cold and the possibility of romance. Very delicately crafted.