Chapter 7

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

Having unburdened himself of his coat and walking stick, Geron Lamarque, a highly regarded physician in the quaint village of Dijon, headed towards the Night-Nursery of his modest abode.

 

Upon entering, the sharp odour of animal fat, generated by a singular burning candle, struck him. Lamarque bore the stench; he could not afford the more pleasant beeswax. 

Notwithstanding the assault, Lamarque approached the white, wicker cradle in the centre of the room. Swathed in a light, woollen blanket slept a fine-looking boy. Lamarque paid heed to the boy’s tiny-fisted fingers, his round, angelic face and the occasional twitching of his mouth. For many tedious months, Lamarque believed love had abandoned him. That was until this child, until Bastien. 

 

Nearby, a rocking chair groaned, taffeta gracefully rustled. Madame Félicité Brodeur, Bastien’s wet-nurse, ceased her rocking. “Good evening, Sir,” she spoke in a cordial whisper. He bade her a similar greeting. Madame Brodeur was not what Lamarque considered a handsome woman, not with her strong, aquiline profile and overly rubicund skin. Nonetheless, she had proven herself invaluable in matters concerning Bastien’s welfare. 

 

Before withdrawing, Lamarque inquired as to Bastien’s outing in the township’s gardens. Madame Brodeur smiled. “He had the women bewitched, a true charmer like his father.” Lamarque found her judgement imprudent. His subsequent admonishments had the required effect. Madame Brodeur cowered and apologised. 

 

Later, as Lamarque sat in his library, sipping a notable drop of Bordeaux, he revisited his earlier altercation with Madame Brodeur.

 

A true charmer like his father, she had said. 

 

Madame Brodeur knew the delicate intricacies of Bastien’s birth. Her loyalty had never been in question; her acumen to such matters more than acceptable. Had Lamarque been too harsh? Perhaps the good lady was correct; perhaps Bastien was proving to be a charmer. 

 

Lamarque set his thoughts on his son, Philippe, a soldier in the French Army. He was a most comely looking man, endowed with a gallant yet brazen manner that fascinated women. And there were many women. 

 

Whilst stationed at the estates of Comte Beauregard, Philippe had fallen in love with the Comte’s daughter, Josephine. They conducted their trysts in secret. Josephine was born of noble parents. Marrying a bourgeois philanderer would have been socially unacceptable. When news came of the escalating riots in Bourbonnais, troops such as Philippe’s were sent to suppress them. The army was victorious. Philippe, however, died in battle. Endless grief bled from Lamarque’s soul. Until, one day, a gentle knock happened upon his door. It was Josephine, protectively cradling her rounded belly. “Help me,” she pleaded.

 

***

“Mademoiselle, we must take leave immediately.” 

 

Josephine looked up and saw Général Alexandre displaying distinguishable unrest. “Leave?” she said. “For what purpose?”

 

Alexandre passed the incriminating filigree brooch to Josephine. Her face flushed hot. Josephine gasped. 

 

“The Marquis does not take family dishonour kindly. I fear for your son’s life, Mademoiselle, I fear for your own.” 

 

Comments

What a fantastic chapter Rosemary!! You have weaved such a wonderful story around the plots left open by other authors and rounded all the uneven edges. The narrative, the language and everything else is just par excellence. Félicitations! Un travail excellent.
I agree with Hemali. That is a gripping chapter, written in the language of the time, beautifully described and capturing the ambience. It took me into the period in a truly convincing way. Loved the characters! Brilliant.
Oh wow! Thanks so much Hemali and Suraya. As you are both such excellent writers i feel honoured. Cheers.