I looked down from my position atop the lush hill upon which the chateau was built and gazed into the city of plantations below. I saw men chained together with their mouths hungry - gaped wide - contorted faces as if they had forgotten their lives before being cast in irons. Though - by the trade wind that blew through the branches of the lush jungle trees - I did imagine many of them did not have a life before iron to remember; perhaps if they did, they would try to escape. They worked in the purple fields I had encountered the previous night. I continued, looking away because it was easier to do so.
I continued down the dirt path through the jungle until it bled into a cobbled area, and I knew myself to be approaching the town which led to the docks I had arrived at. They were light now, a blue sky and bright yellow sun full of vitality illuminating the chaotic world beneath with its humidity clouding the eyes of those that could not see. I wandered amongst the people here who seemed to exist so separately from their surroundings, men dressed as a mimicry of Blanchelande in shades of blue who seemed to think their world was not already crumbling. It had crumbled in America; it had crumbled in France; surely they were naive to believe that it wouldn't eventually be swallowed up here too.
One thing that struck me was that there were no women here; that is to say, there were no rich white women that I had seen. My pale pink parasol did look somewhat out of place, for they had become fashionable to avoid innocent young white girls from appearing tanned in the summer months, and the majority of the women here were neither white nor entirely black. People had undoubtedly noticed me; a few had even bowed slightly at my presence.
"Mademoiselle," one young man bowed deeply as I approached ", may I help you?"
"I'm sorry?" I asked, bemused.
"You seem lost," he said.
"No, no, I am looking for Reget."
"Oh?" he replied. "Are you not the young lady sent from France for Blanchelande up at Chateau Blancs?"
"I suppose." I tilted my head slightly to think that perhaps Blanchelande had been telling everyone that I had been sent here for him, whatever that meant.
"The chateau is back up the way you came." He smiled, gesturing back up the hill. "I shall escort you."
"That will not be necessary." I smiled. "I am looking, as I said, for Reget."
"Oh, the mulatto entreating upon the wealth of Blanchelande."
"He's on the little beach around the corner from the docks, Mademoiselle, though I would not concern yourself with him, for I do not."
"Thank you." I curtseyed and headed off over the crowded docks towards the beach. Sure enough, as I found the wooden slats of the docks turning into crisp golden sand, I saw the figure of Reget sitting upon a large piece of driftwood on the beach. The sky all around him was blue, and he seemed to fit perfectly with the world of possibility the sea crashing ahead of him instantiated.
"Reget!" I shouted, causing him to turn away from the sea sharply and stand up.
"Elodie!" he called back. "What are you doing out here?"
"I came looking for you!" I shouted, running towards him. I ran now as I ran from the place Thierry was killed, and yet this time, I was not running away from the past; I was running towards the future. As I approached, he sat back down. "Do you mind if I join you?" I asked.
"Not at all." he smiled. "Is Blanchelande winding you up?" he laughed.
"No, it's not that; he told me to be careful of you as it happens."
"Oh." he looked away.
"What are you doing out here?" I asked.
"Thinking," he replied.
"That," he said, gesturing strictly towards something I could not quite make out in the distance, hanging from a tree.
"That is the body of Vincent Oge," he said definitively.
"Oh God," I replied.
"He was killed in February; he was the leader of a small, unsuccessful revolt. I think it was his actions that led to you being sent here. He was just acting on the philosophy of Rousseau as the Revolution in France was, and they killed him and left him here." Reget paused and saluted gracefully towards the body. "Now a real revolution is coming, Elodie."
"A revolution?" That word filled me with dread.
"Yes." he nodded gravely. "And I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, I -" he cut off "can I trust you, Elodie?" he asked.
"Of course, I told you my biggest, deadliest secrets, so you can tell me yours."
"I am currently helping a man called Toussaint Louverture organise a meeting with enslaved people from all over Haiti. It is illegal for enslaved people to gather under the Code Noir, so he tells me when the next meeting is, and I make sure Blanchelande is preoccupied with other affairs at the time."
"That's treason." I gasped.
"Yes, I know, it's probably also not ideal that you, Marquise La Roche, have convinced everyone into thinking you're a hero of the French Revolution, so spare me."
"Sorry." I shook my head.
"No," he paused. "I am sorry, but I need to do this. I need to help Haiti gain independence, but the trouble is no one trusts me because I live at Chateau Blancs."
"Can I help?" I asked.
"Well, firstly, you could not hang around me dressed quite so like a French aristocrat, so the enslaved people don't think that I've taken a wife like Blanchelande." he laughed.
"Do you mean that Blanchelande would take a wife like me?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm sure he'd do anything if you asked him," he replied, looking away.
"Or do you mean that I am like Blanchelande?"
"No," he shook his head. "You have far more compassion than him."
"I hope so." I nodded. "In my few short hours here, I can see that the slaves here need to be freed."
"Blanchelande can't in almost 12 months." he smiled.
"Oh, Reget," I whispered, "I was meaning to ask, what do you know of Blanchelande's sister?"
"Emilie?" he replied; I nodded. "Emilie died shortly after she came back here with Blanchelande's mother."
"But she was 13. Did she die of disease?" I asked.
"I don't know," Reget replied. I sensed there was something he was not telling me, a secret he was keeping in reserve.
"Okay." I replied, "But, with regard to an uprising, I think from all I have seen in the last two years, you need to do what you think is right."
"And you?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"What will you think of me if I enable a revolution here?"
"Why do you care what I think of you?" I laughed.
"I don't know." he smiled. "But I feel very close to you."
"Oh. Well, I have a habit of making people feel close to me, and then they die, so I wouldn't recommend feeling close to me."
"Shame. Because I think it might be too late for me." he smiled. "You are like one of the folklore slave masters who has stolen the souls of his slaves, so they come back as zombies once they've died."
"Romantic." I laughed.
"Would you mind if I was romantic?" he smiled.
"Blanchelande would." I giggled.
"But would you?" he repeated.