Gilles had barely slept. His wound had kept him awake, not to mention his anger. Madame was up to something. The next phase of his plan would have to be put into motion sooner than he expected. Aimée needed a path to Paris.
At first light, he resigned himself to wakefulness and prepared to leave. He emerged from his room and sent the hall boy to the stable for his horse. He passed the rest of the servants as they opened the house and went out the front door. He walked around the house, careful to avoid the windows of Madame’s rooms.
Gilles stopped by a white rose bush and gazed across the gardens. He replayed the previous afternoon in his mind and cursed his moment of weakness that now brought him pain. It had given Madame the excuse to end Aimée’s training. He glanced up at the windows. The girl was staring out at the rooftops of the village in the distance and hadn’t noticed him. Her elbows were propped on the windowsill and her chin rested on her hands.
He picked up a stone and tossed it against the glass. Aimée straightened up at the sound and as she cast her eyes about they landed on the Count. He pulled out a small wooden box and she watched him place it underneath the branches of the rose bush. Gilles swept off his hat regally and bowed before he walked away around the house where he found his horse waiting. He took the reins from the groom, mounted and started the long trek back to Paris.