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L'Estranger: Chapter Seven
L'Estranger: Chapter Seven

L'Estranger: Chapter Seven

Mitzi1776Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik

Blanchelande and I walked down the wide staircase, regarding each other closely. His blue eyes stayed forward, surveying the way ahead carefully. Mine darted; I was both half looking for Reget and half looking deeply into Blanchelande's eyes, for he reminded me of the past - a past which for me had long since faded, leaving only traces of lives' memories like the whispers of the peeling portraits that hung in the halls here, already yellowing with antiquity.

"Tea!" Blanchelande exclaimed to the slaves dotted about.

"Elodie," he whispered as if he was half excited by calling me by my first name; perhaps he was new to familiarity as an institution ", please sit down."

"Okay," I nodded, sitting down on a chaise lounge in the drawing-room.

"Are you alright?" he whispered, reaching his arm out and around me as if he were feeling paternalistic towards me.

"Of course." I smiled gaily.

"What did he do to you?" Blanchelande asked with distinct concern.

"What?" I replied in confusion.

"What did the mulatto do to you?" he leaned in. "It's okay, Elodie, you can trust me."

"Do you mean Reget?" I asked.

"Yes," he nodded, "what did he do to you?"

"Nothing, Blanchelande." I shook my head. "He was just keeping me company."

"If you need company, you should come to me, Elodie," he whispered, leaning in as the tea in its delicate china cups was laid out on the little table beside us.

"I - "I stuttered. "I didn't mean that." I swallowed as I finished. "I was just - "

"No, Elodie, men like that are dangerous, and a beautiful white young lady like you is hardly safe around here. If you need something or someone, you come to me, not to him."

"Okay, Blanchelande," I whispered, half struck by the assertiveness with which he spoke.

"Good." he smiled, sipping his tea.

"Blanchelande," I smiled. "Thank you very much for the offer of tea, it was very kind, but I think I would like to take a walk."

"Oh," he stood up sharply, "I shall accompany you."

"I don't think that'll be necessary; in any case, you must have work to do around the plantation." I smiled, standing and curtseying. He bowed in exchange.

"At least allow me to offer you my men to accompany you."

"Okay." I nodded. "Thank you, Blanchelande."

"Not a problem, Elodie; my family has owned this chateau and these lands for aeon years."

"Oh? How come you were born in France if you don't mind my asking?"

"I wasn't," he looked away, and for the first time, I felt that Blanchelande had something he was not proud of nesting within him. "I was born here, in Saint Domingue."

"Oh? I thought you said that you came here last year." I questioned.

"Yes." he nodded, "I did depart for a while."

"Oh."

"My mother left here a few years after she had given birth to my younger sister Emilie. We lived in France for almost thirteen years together when my mother and sister decided to return, but I remained in Paris to complete my studies."

"Where is your sister now?" I asked, "Did she run away from here to be married off to some handsome young man?"

"No." he shook his head. "Unfortunately, she died shortly after returning here."

“Oh, I am sorry, Blanchelande.” I whispered, "my little brother died too." I swallowed, unsure of why I was telling him of all people.

"Oh," he whispered absentmindedly as if he had briefly returned to some elaborate fairytale he was once in.

"I shall dress." I smiled. "I won't be long, Blanchelande; there is no need for your men; I shall just walk a little; I may not even leave the grounds."

"Okay." Blanchelande smiled as if he were still dazed from his brief escape back into the past.

"Thank you." I smiled again, curtseying.

"Thank you, Elodie." he smiled, bowing. "I hope you don't mind me saying that you do look a little like my sister in your eyes.". I swallowed and said nothing. Turning to the door of the drawing-room, I began up the stairs and back to my chambers. My soul within me was burning, for I now knew the name of that beautiful girl whose dates I perused yesterday; she was Blanchelande's sister Emilie. I came to her portrait once more and stared into her young eyes. He misses you; I whispered as I stared. She seemed to nod lightly as if she knew.

I dressed as quickly as I could in pale pink, not wanting to miss Reget and equally wishing to wash my mind clear of all the darkness I imagined about Blanchelande's childhood and the untimely death of the girl whose portrait hung in the corridor of these ghostly halls. I did not wish to dwell on her life or death, though from my experience with Theirry's death, it is almost impossible to avoid transfixation upon as the one who lived. I did pity Blanchelande for that, though I knew I would never be able to tell him of our melancholy similarity. And I suppose I pitied myself for that.

I left Chateau Blancs by the same castle double doors I had entered through. I knew I did not know the way to the docks, though I assumed it was simply a matter of tracing my steps back, like so many things. As I walked through the heat, I felt as if I was walking in the footsteps of a stranger. That was an unfamiliar feeling, of course, for usually, it is me who is the stranger wherever I am. But no, I think it is Blanchelande who is the real stranger here in Saint Domingue, for he is native and yet one so apart set up there on the hill in his high castle, I wonder if he is perhaps a stranger even to himself.

And Reget? What of him? Was I to regard him as the only one of the three of us who was not a stranger here? Far from it, I appreciated that he was born a master's son and the son of a slave; he was undoubtedly a stranger to Blanchelande (just as Blanchelande was a stranger to him). He was distrusted by the white population for his colour and equally mistrusted by the black population here due to his association. Just as if France ever returned to the way it once was - the Paris of my childhood, which I was beginning to dream was just the wanderings into a fairytale I once imagined - I would be killed by the old aristocrats as a hero of the Revolution.

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About The Author
Mitzi1776
Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik
About This Story
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18+
Posted
16 Mar, 2022
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1,114
Read Time
5 mins
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