1618: ii

Sister Teresa opened the door and admitted Aimée to the room. The Abbess stood and nodded to her guest.

“I shall leave you as requested,” she said to the seated woman and with a smile to Aimée left the room. The door closed on the curious gaze of Sister Teresa by the Abbess. The seated woman stood and turned to face Aimée. She was another nun, although her habit was of a finer material than those that resided at the convent.

“Mademoiselle de Lannoy, is it?” the woman asked.

Aimée bowed, “Yes, Sister.” She remained where she was by the door. The nun stepped closer and peered deeply in to her face. It was as if she were looking for something.

“The Abbess tells me you have been here since autumn,” the nun said.

Aimée nodded. Inside she was squirming under the woman’s scrutiny. Aimée forced herself to look at the woman’s face just as deeply as she looked at her.

“Do you know me?” the woman asked.

“I’m afraid I do not…although you seem familiar…” Aimée found herself saying without thinking.

“My mother sent me here to see you. I’ll admit I thought she was a fool, but as her daughter I felt the need to humor her. Now that I see you before me…I…I can’t…I can’t deny the resemblance…” The woman appeared unnerved as she stared at Aimée.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I follow,” Aimée apologized.

“Before I joined the sisterhood I was known as Charlotte de Lannoy. My mother, the Countess de Lannoy, heard about your residence here and sent me to investigate your pedigree. I was under the impression that I would find another common swindler after an old woman’s purse, but I am surprised. The resemblance to my Aunt Anne is uncanny. All my mother said was that you were some distant cousin.” The woman couldn’t shake her astonished expression. “Do you know who your mother is?

“I am afraid not. She died not long after I was born. She took refuge at the convent as Madame Marche. Her woman servant took the vows and raised me as a child of God until I joined my previous mistress as a companion. The good Sister never spoke to me of my parents although I asked many times. She said it was too painful for her.”

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