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L'Etranger: Chapter Thirteen
L'Etranger: Chapter Thirteen

L'Etranger: Chapter Thirteen

Mitzi1776Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik

Blanchelande and I walked onto the balcony, leaving the white French doors open. The soft wind off the sea blew the drapes so that they were buoyed up, whisked half away into the warm summer air.

“It’s July tomorrow.” I smiled.

“Is it really?” Blanchelande laughed. “And there was me watching for the longest day of the year.”

“It'’s already gone, unfortunately.”

“Ah! So often the way,” he sighed, looking to the sky. “Now all that is ahead of us is a brutally hot July.”

“Juillet.” I smiled, whispering the name of the month in French.

“But it does sound rather nice, though,” he smiled. “For such an awful month.”

“It does, doesn’t it? When I was a girl, I always imagined because of how its spelt that it was named as a tribute to Romeo’s Juliet, because that’s the month they died in.”

“Maybe it is,” he nodded. “I never thought of Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy.”

“Really?”

“Yes. When they die they get to be together, there’s nothing tragic in that.”

“I suppose.”

“Real tragedy is when one lover dies, leaving the other.”

“Yes.” I nodded.

“That’s what happened to me,” he looked down. “Emilie died, leaving me all alone.”

“What?” I asked in surprise, sure I had misheard. “I thought Emilie was your sister?”

“She was. Well, she was my half-sister,” he gazed up.

“I have never heard of that,” I said, bewildered.

“What? A half-sister?”

“Yes, how does that work exactly?”

“Well, we have the same mother, but not the same father,” he said, seeming somewhat ashamed.

“Oh? Did your father not mind?” I laughed a little, uneasy.

“Certainly, that’s why she left Saint Domingue. He wouldn’t let her stay at Château Blancs anymore. You know, Elodie, I think you are the first person I have ever said that to.”

“Oh. Do you know who Emilie’s father is?” I asked tentatively.

“No. My mother only said that he was a man called Porphyro.”

“It says under your sister’s portrait that she was called Emilie Blanchelande – I suppose that is not quite true.”

“It is,” he smiled longingly. “It is in the sense that she was effectively a wife to me. By calling her Emilie Blanchelande, I can hang on to that feeling whenever I look upon her portrait.”

“You married her?” I asked half in disbelief, half in amazement for his audacity.

“Not legally, I don’t suppose, but when we were in Paris, she and I had our union blessed by The Reverend Father Dupont of Montmartre about a year before she—” his voice broke away, “he married us – me as myself and her as Emilie Porphyro, he did not know we shared a father. At the end of the ceremony, he said that he pronounced her Emilie Blanchelande, so whatever way you look at it, she is Emilie Blanchelande,” he smiled. “Mother found out soon after father died, for she was terrified that he had left nothing for Emilie, as she was not his daughter. So I told her that she need not worry, for Emilie would be provided for by me. She called us sinners. I called her a sinner. A few weeks after she found out, she had to return to Saint Domingue to settle his affairs, and she took Emilie with her to keep her from me. I received just one letter from Emilie when she arrived here. She wrote pages and pages in swirling ink yellowing with antiquity telling me that she loved me – her everlasting husband – eternally, and that as soon as she could, she would find a way back to me. But she never did. That letter arrived after her death.” He looked away.

“Blanchelande—” I whispered, totally unknowing of what to say.

“No, no, it’s all alright,” he smiled. “She lives with me always in these halls.”

“Yes.” I smiled, for I knew of others that died before their time who lived on in empty halls of the past. “How did she die?” I whispered, dreaming that I was about to uncover some beautiful Revolutionary tie to Thierry’s death.

“She died in a storm,” he swallowed. “It was a hurricane that had left the whole town in disrepair.” His blue eyes filled so that they even more resembled the sea. “Some free blacks took the opportunity to break into the château. They defiled my wife. She died from her injuries.”

“That’s dreadful,” I whispered.

“Yes. By the time word reached me – from Reget, as it happens – she had already had her funeral.”

“You weren’t there?”

“No, it did not bother me much. I have no desire to become Hamlet and fight in her grave. No, it was better I missed it. It was all a long time ago.”

“Fight with who?” I asked, astounded by the curiosity of this situation.

“Reget,” he swallowed.

“Did he love Emilie too?”

“I don’t know, but I know he admired her.” Blanchelande looked away. “Of course he did, how could he not admire such a beautiful, white girl?”

“But how did Reget even know her? If Emilie left Saint Domingue in 1770, Reget was a baby, and when she returned, she was only here—” my voice broke off, “she didn’t spend long here.”

“Reget wrote to her. God only knows how mulattos learn to read and write. He wrote to her telling her of life back in Château Blancs, he told her of the plantation, of father – my father – of everything,” he said with distinct bitterness.

“Did he know that Emilie became your wife?” I asked, tentatively.

“No, why should he?”

“I—” my voice broke off. “I’m sorry, Blanchelande, all this is terrible.”

“Not only did he try to corrupt my wife, but he did not stop her from being violated, and now he tries to seize power, he’s been doing that since he was born.”

“I know Emilie loved you, Blanchelande,” I whispered.

“And I know she loves me still,” he smiled, retreating once more into his dreams. “Come to the roof with me, Elodie,” he whispered with all the excitement of a child.

Blanchelande grabbed my hand and pulled me around the corner of the twilight balcony to a swirling staircase in white marble that led up to the rooftop chessboard courtyard in which Blanchelande and I just yesterday had practised our duelling skills.

“Where are you taking me?” I giggled, for his excitement was half contagious.

“Lie down here,” he laughed, taking off his blue and silver jacket and laying it over two adjacent squares, one black and one white. He lay down on top of the white square and beckoned me. Bewildered, I lay down on the black square beside him. “Now look up,” he whispered joyously.

I stared up into the darkening sky of Saint Domingue. It was a midnight blue, coated in stars that shone bright white like African diamonds. The lush green leaves of the tallest jungle trees prickled into the corners of our view, the trade winds blowing them gently.

“You have to count from the star directly above you, if you’re looking for Emilie,” he whispered. “Do you see it?” he pointed lightly to a bright star.

“Yes, Blanchelande,” I whispered.

“Now, count one more star along to the right and she is next,” he sighed, pointing. “Do you see her? She’s the brightest, whitest one.”

“Yes,” I repeated. “She’s beautiful. She’s too beautiful for this world.”

I turned my eyes to Blanchelande and stopped his mouth with a light kiss. He seemed to startle for a moment, then kissed me in return with ruby lips that seemed far too soft for the words they spoke. I fell into him as I suppose Emilie had when they had first kissed in some beautiful Parisian apartments of old. Blanchelande’s wistful fairy tale was truly intoxicating. It was no wonder to me that he no longer inhabited the real world.

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About The Author
Mitzi1776
Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik
About This Story
Audience
18+
Posted
27 Dec, 2023
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1,318
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