1617: xxii

Aimée stared out the window at the winter landscape. Her expression was as bleak as the barren ground. Her thumb ran repetitively over a geared edge of her clockwork bird. She was developing a callus from the anxious tic.

Her thoughts traveled far and wide as she stared out the window. Back to warm summer days spent horseback riding and sparring across the fields.  She even remembered days stuck in the confines of Madame’s sitting room with joy. She would welcome the idea of being drilled in etiquette and dance steps to her daily monotony of prayer and making lace.

The convent was testing her patience. As a young child it hadn’t bothered her since it had been all she knew, but not now. Her horizons had broadened. She had learned and experienced too many things over the past few years. Now the quiet and solemnity felt more oppressive than the last time Madame had cinched her corset.

“Mademoiselle?”

Aimée inhaled sharply as if she had forgotten to breathe. She tucked away her bird and turned to find Sister Teresa in the doorway.

“Yes, Sister?” The nun stepped into the room with a curious expression and took an oblong box from under her arm.

“This came for you,” she said.

“Oh, thank you, Sister,” Aimée replied as she took it. Teresa smiled and waited expectantly.

“Is there anything else?” Aimée asked.

“No, only I suppose…I am curious,” the Sister admitted.

“I am afraid you will have to excuse me. I would like to avoid any more disapproval from the Abbess and I can’t ask you to lie on my behalf again.” She put a hand protectively on the lid of the box. Teresa’s shoulders slumped slightly under her habit.

“Perhaps if it’s appropriate…you could tell me later?” she suggested. Aimée smiled and picked her words carefully.

“I’m afraid I don’t find very much classified as appropriate here.”

“Very true,” Sister Teresa nodded. She retreated to the door, smiled at Aimée and pulled the door shut behind her.

i        xxi        xxiii

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