1617: ix

With a flick of her wrist, Aimée sent her knife end over end towards a slat of wood resting against the garden wall. It sunk with a pleasant thud slightly off the mark. She scowled. If Madame had allowed her to practice she would have struck true. She went to the target and began pulling her knives from the wood when the hall boy darted around the house.

“Mademoiselle!” Aimée’s whole body tensed up.

“Is it Madame?” she asked. The boy skidded to a halt.

“Not Madame, a messenger,” he said breathlessly. Aimée returned the throwing knives to their sheaths and made her way to the front of the house on the heels of the hall boy. The post horse came to a halt on the gravel. The messenger pulled out an envelope.

“Missive for Mademoiselle Marche,” the messenger announced as he passed it to the hall boy, who ran to pass it to Aimée as Louisa appeared at the front door. Aimée recognized the script and seal immediately.

“Will you wait for my reply?” she called to the messenger. He nodded in assent. “Louisa, see that he has refreshment.” Aimée swept past the maid as she rushed to Madame’s writing desk. Her hands shook as she broke the seal and tried to unfold the paper.

Mademoiselle,

I demand an explanation in regard to my previous letters that have gone unanswered. There is no time for disobedience. You forget I was kind enough to alleviate the guilt of your previous transgression.

                                                         G. C.d.R.

Aimée immediately grabbed a fresh sheet of paper. The ink dribbled as she searched for the right words.

Monsieur,

This is the first I have read of any letter of yours. If there were others, they have not made it into my hands. If they had, I assure you my replies would have been obedient as I remain your loyal servant. Madame has restricted my freedoms and my practice has suffered.

Please return.

                                                            Semper fidelis,

                                                                  Aimée

She blotted the ink, folded the paper and sealed it before she could rethink her words. She strode back to the front to find the messenger handing his cup back to the maid. Aimée held out her letter and in a flash the messenger dutifully mounted. The horse was down the road with the remaining sliver of Aimée’s hope.

i       viii       x

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