1617: xiii

This is it, Aimée thought, Help is not coming.

She hadn’t any reply from the Count. She wasn’t even certain if Louisa had sent her message or if the maid had simply handed it over to Madame. She had followed through with her night time rituals and gotten into bed with the blankets pulled up to her chin before Madame circled the room as usual and locked her in. Once the house had fallen quiet, Aimée threw back the blankets. She was fully clothed in her simplest dress that allowed her the most movement. She dragged her bundle from under the bed and propped it by the windows.

The window unlatched, but only opened a few inches. Aimée placed a pillow against the lattice glass and kicked at it. It slowly crept open on the corroded hinges until it finally snapped open with a large pop. Aimée froze and listened the house. It remained quiet. She grabbed the bundle and tossed it down on the ground. She perched up on the window ledge. The ground looked farther her than she had considered. She hesitated. The chill air swept past her face into the warmth of the room.

Aimée hadn’t had much time to prepare once it was confirmed they were leaving. Jumping had sounded so simple in her head. Now she stared at the ground below her and wished she had been able to get her hands on some rope. To stop and cut up the bed sheets now would only waste valuable time. She took a deep breath, clenched her eyes shut and jumped. She crashed into part of the rose bush. The thorns scratched along her arm and face. Her ankle twisted with the bad landing. She bit her lip to keep from screaming. Very slowly, she extricated herself from the bush and picked up her bundle. Resolute and believing the worst was over, she started to limp across the garden.

A creak almost hidden by the breeze entered her ear and she tried to move faster through the pain. A strange hobbling run to the garden gate. The sound of pounding footsteps came across the grass. Aimée grasped the gate and pulled it was locked. Large hands clasped her arms, but she wouldn’t release the gate. The gardener grabbed her around the waste and pulled.

“I thought the Madame was being overly concerned, but here you are!” he laughed as his assistant came. Together they pried her fingers loose and carried her back to the house.

i       xii       xiv

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