“What is it?”
At Gilles inquiry, Aimée tore her eyes away from the sword only briefly, before they automatically latched on it again. Gilles unbuckled his baldric and offered her the hilt. “Go on…if you would like.” Aimée sprung to her feet at the unexpected offer. Slowly, she reached forward and closed her hand around the hilt. She gave it a tug and it slid smoothly out of the sheath. It was heavier than she expected as she held it up. Anxious, she looked at Gilles. He waved his hand for her to continue, a gesture of encouragement.
Aimée stepped away from him and swung the sword tentatively. The metal seemed to sing as it cut through the air. Enthusiasm welled up in her and it must have shown on her face as she swished it around a few more times.
“That’s enough, Aimée.” Gilles’ firm voice interrupted her reverie and she froze. He came up to her. The girl squinted up at him, as her head barely made it to his shoulder. The sun was bright behind him and she couldn’t quite see his face. She thought she had done something wrong. He took the sword from her and returned it to its sheath. “I could teach you…” he spoke carefully, “It wouldn’t be proper, but I could. It would have to be our secret though.”
“Yes!” Aimée exclaimed with a rushing exhale, “Yes, please, Monsieur le Comte!” She clasped her hands together.
“Very well. After I return, we will begin,” Gilles grinned, “But first, Mademoiselle, you must behave for Madame.” The smile dropped from Aimée’s face.
“You’re leaving?” she asked. “Why? Where are you going? Can’t I come with?”
“I must return to my patron to inform him why I have left Brussels. You must remain here and learn what Madame has to teach you,” Gilles said as he refastened his baldric. When he looked up Aimée had tears rolling down her cheeks. He was baffled as to how he should respond. Crying children was not his forte. He tentatively patted her on the head. Aimée rubbed her eyes.
“Don’t leave me here! I don’t know where I am! I don’t know this Madame!” she cried.
“There, there, ma Cher, don’t cry. I will return before long,” he said awkwardly. He rested an arm around her shoulders and gave her a slight squeeze. “I believe Madame has an atlas in the library. How about I show you where we are?” He began to walk her back to the house.
“And where you are going?” Aimée squeaked.
“Very well, ma Cher.”