Chapter 9

Written by: Suraya Dewing

After Bastien’s birth, Josephine left the child in the care of Monsieur Geron Lamarque’s household and speedily returned to the care of her beloved father, Comte Beauregard de Valois.

Not long after, she began her journey to prepare for her nuptials to Marquis Guy Leroy. On the way, she decided to take the ill-fated detour to Monsieur Geron’s to visit Bastien. 

Now, the Marquis Guy Leroy Hamelin stood before her, his eyes fixed on the brooch she had tried to hide and which he had snatched from her. With deliberate slowness, he opened it to reveal the image of Josephine, Phillippe and Bastien. 

A swoon overcame her. Gratefully, she sank into its warm encasing embrace.

When she recovered she was delicately resting on a chaise longue. But the moment of respite fled with the thumping of the Marquis’ boots on the parquet floor. Her eyes spontaneously fluttered open.

“Mademoiselle,” the Marquis stopped beside her. He opened the brooch roughly and pointed to each frame, “am I to believe this man and this child have something to do with you?” 

A tear slipped down her pale cheeks. The Marquis sneered, “I’ve seen grown men cry so your tears are meaningless to me. I want an answer.”  He thudded his fist into his hand, “immediately.”

Her quick detour and the precious moment she had had with Bastien before resuming her journey to the Marquis’ estate flashed before her. She could still feel Bastien's soft warmth in her arms. The beautiful baby had just returned from his first perambulation in the garden, the fresh air bringing colour to his bonny cheeks. She ached to hold him again.

The memory of his deliciously sweet smell wrenched heartbroken tears from her heart.

The Marquis firmly folded his arms and planted his feet so that he towered over her. “The truth Mademoiselle,” he demanded. "I'm entitled to the truth."

His voice softened reminding her of the Général’s words, 'he loves you...'

“He’s dead,” she murmured. Her voice was utterly drained.

“Who?”

She looked out the window and saw a horseman galloping over the horizon. Her heart lifted as the sun glanced off the rider’s cuirassier’s helmet. She gasped, and held her fingers to her mouth, sure she was looking upon the Général.

She returned her attention to the Marquis.

She whispered, “Phillippe” and pointed to the man in the brooch. “He’s dead."

The Marquis let his eyes rest on the child and back on Josephine. He saw likenesses in the way the child’s eyes were shaped and the tiny pink budded mouth. He nodded slowly as it became clear whose child he was looking at.

Sadness filled him. He knew that, despite being filled with tender feelings for Josephine, he could not proceed with the betrothal. His standing in the community was too important to risk a scandal. He turned away and shook his head apologetically.

The sound of horse’s hooves clattering urgently on the paving of courtyard filled the room.