1617: iv

In her room, Aimée rubbed oil into her hands and bandaged her cut as a maid brushed out her hair. Madame came in and did her usual inspection. She picked the dress up from the chair and commented on the dreadful state of it before she passed it off to the maid to clean.  Madame came up behind Aimée.

“Why are you smiling?” she asked. Aimée looked up at the woman’s reflection.

“Am I?”

“You are.”

Aimée shrugged and forced her lips into a straight line.

“What punishment did the Count give you?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Aimée replied. Her eyes didn’t waver from the Madame’s. “I prayed to God for leniency and I begged Monsieur for forgiveness. He saw how my mistake grieved me. My sorrow was punishment enough.”

Madame’s brow raised. Aimée looked away from the woman’s expression in the mirror and focused on straightening her bandage.

“Very well. If you believe God has heard enough from you for one day then to bed with you.” The woman couldn’t fault the girl’s argument. The Count’s wound had given her reason to put a stop to the lessons in swordplay among other things. He would now be out of Madame’s way.

Aimée quickly climbed into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. Madame checked the window latches, snuffed the candles and left the room. In the dark, Aimée heard the key scrape in the lock. She knew she would never be allowed out until after the Count had left.

i      iii      v

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