Chapter 8

Written by: Donna McTavish

Josephine dropped her head and when she spoke her voice had diminished as if all the energy in her body had been extinguished. The Général had to lean closer to hear, so close that he could feel the air disturbed by her soft breath against his skin. 


“I cannot leave the Marquis. Papa will …. and Mama ….”.  


She could hold her feelings in check no longer and tears dropped onto her lap. Her mother, she knew, would stay by her side but, despite his own philandering nature, her father would not, could not, accept such behaviour from his daughter. His pride, and the daily comfort his noble position brought him, would not survive the humiliation that would follow and her attachment to him would be severed forever. She knew it as a certainty and she was flooded with shame at the thought of it.


In her agitated state she had made a fist around the brooch but now she opened her hand and seemed to see it for the first time.  Every aspect of the silver heart was as familiar to her as her own body. Her eyes rested on the delicate strands of silver that swirled on its surface curling around the three green gemstones and she moved the pad of her finger over their smooth edges as she had done so many times before. Her resolve returned and she turned to face the Général.


“You must go,” she cried in a voice now clear and firm. “Go to my son and keep him safe. I beg of you. I will face the Marquis. I will not run, or be hunted like an animal.”


Memories flooded the Général’s mind as he returned her gaze. Long ago he had stood in front of another young woman who had also begged for his help under similar circumstance but he had not listened. Arrogance untempered by experience, and youthful infatuation of the most intense kind, had blinded him to the danger and, oblivious of the delicacy that the situation required, he had not heeded her plea. He had stayed with her believing in the power of forgiveness but he had been mistaken. Her child had died and she who had stolen his heart had not been able to bear the pain of it. His decision had haunted him, never leaving him for a single night since. He feared that this time, his heart, already stirred by feelings of affection towards the young woman seated before him, would not again withstand the pain of tragedy, and to that end he resolved to do as she wished.


“I will go Mademoiselle. The Marquis is a proud man but he loves you and he will listen to you. Choose your words carefully.”


“Thank you Alexandre.” she whispered. “Hurry back soon.”


A flush crept upwards from his neck at the sound of his name uttered for the first time from her sweet mouth.  He turned away quickly so she would not see, and was gone.


The way you use dialogue is great Donna. You say just enough and leave a lot hanging in the air for the reader to fill. "Papa will...Mama will..." The Reader finishes these sentences and because of the way you have set them up the words are full off portent...innuendo and meaning. The reader gives these words meaning, not you, the writer. Its sparse yet elaborate writing. Terrific.