1617: xi

“You should not have kept this from me,” the older woman said. “I could have helped.” The woman was not amused as Madame explained the circumstances that she had agreed to with the Count. Aimée crouched next door in the dark morning room. She held a glass tumbler between her ear and the wall to eavesdrop on the conversation.

“If he knew you were involved he would have turned on me. I couldn’t take that chance, but now…well, I have gotten rid of him for the time being,” Madame said. “I am sure with your help we could manage something that would allow us an income.”

“We could manage that, but I am afraid my thoughts run a bit darker,” the mysterious woman replied.

“How so?”

He was responsible for your husband’s death or have you forgotten? Not to mention two others of my sons. The rest of my surviving children have turned to religion. I will have no heirs and he is to blame!” the elder spat. Her voice was filled with venom and hate. “It was his scheme to be the sole inheritor. The greedy fool!”

Aimée could hear footsteps stirring as someone paced back and forth across the room. He could only have meant the Count. It was Madame’s doing that he had not returned and she must be hiding his letters.

“What do you suggest?” Madame asked.

“I want to observe her tomorrow. You have put in all the work of training her. I would hate for it to go to waste. Otherwise I would immediately say dump her in a poor convent where he’ll never find her or whatever happens to cause him the most displeasure,” the elder said. “However, we should leave here. He’ll never think to look for her at my estate. Staying here, we run the risk of him finding us out.”

Aimée cringed. Her heart had begun to pound in her ears and drown out the conversation. The glass slipped between her sweaty fingers and she fumbled to catch it before it hit the ground. She carefully retreated from the room in her stocking feet and climbed the stairs to her room.

i       x      xii

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