1614: vii

Aimée stared at the ceiling as the firelight danced across it. She lay on a makeshift pallet next to the hearth exhausted, but unable to sleep in a strange place.

“Go to sleep, Mademoiselle,” Gilles murmured. He kept is voice low to prevent their hosts from eavesdropping. She glanced at him, as he slouched in a chair with his eyes closed.

“I cannot. If I fall asleep I may be abducted again and even more lost than I am now,” she whispered. Suddenly, Aimée clasped her hands and shut her eyes.

“O most holy apostle, Saint Jude,” she began, “faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honoureth and invoketh thee as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to mine assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly that I find home again. Have mercy on my abductor, Brother Paul, for he knows not what he has done. Guide him back to the light and hand of God. I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee. Amen.” She held her pose of prayer for another minute before cracking one of her eyes and stealing a look at her captor. His dark eyes glinted in the firelight.

“Mademoiselle, I am le Comte de R—–. I ask you to call me, Gilles, with the same familiarity that you spoke to Brother Paul as I am still the same man. My intentions are only honorable. Your life was a waste with Sister Ruth. She kept it a secret from you, but you are a de Lannoy and from a noble family. You belong in Paris and I am simply taking you home. Your real home.”

Aimée had heard a little about Paris. It was supposed to be grand. She turned on her side and faced the fire. The name de Lannoy was strange to her. She didn’t think Sister Ruth would lie to her. She began recalling everything the nun had said about her homeland and eventually drifted to sleep.


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