General Fiction posted April 9, 2009


Exceptional
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Strong character contest entry

The Parting

by Adri7enne

The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.
She knew he would come to her soon, her English Lord, and he would expect her to be as always, eager and passionate. She stared at her reflection in the mirror, her fingers trembling as she removed the pins that held up her auburn hair.

'Ma flame', he called her, in the privacy of their bedroom. And she, of course, called him 'My Lord'.

Her amber eyes flashed in the flickering candle light as the hair cascaded down her naked back. Her fingers trailed over the many bottles and vials, scattered across the top of the table; scents and cosmetics he had purchased for her over many years.

"I take good care of my possessions," he had whispered, as he massaged the expensive oils into her naked flesh. "And you,  my love, are my most prized possession." 

Her body had quickened to his touch, as it had since their first encounter.  She picked up the small silver vial, then replaced it on the dresser. Perhaps later, if it became necessary...

She swept up the candle from the side table and walked to the window. Holding the curtain across her bare body,  she waved the flame back and forth, and watched for the responding lantern signal from beyond the stables. Everything was in place. There was no turning back.

She picked up several bottles of the precious oils and wrapped them in a soft cloth before adding them to the carpet bag and slipping it back under the bed skirting. She knew  when they were gone, she would never see their likes again.

With a sigh, she lay across the feather bed and pulled a thin coverlet over herself. He would be up soon. She yearned for him still, but a heavy sadness pervaded her mind and made breathing difficult. She sat up and leaned against her pillow as she recalled their first meeting.

She had been walking alone, in the woods that surrounded her father's cultivated fields. Like all Acadians, Marcel Legere owned a strip of land that ran from the rich, diked fields near the water, and stretched to the acres of forests beyond.

"Don't wander too far on your own, Renee," her mother had warned her. "Let me send your brother, Alfred with you. At least he can run home if you come across a wolf or something."

"Ah, non, Maman. Alfred is a chatterbox and he would get lost in the woods in a second. And when was the last time anyone even saw a wolf?" She swung her flower basket as she spoke, her tall, slim form outlined against the fields and sky.

Her mother shurgged. "Still, ma fille, you shouldn't be out there alone. Your father would never forgive me if something were to happen to his precious daughter. And Anselm Godin would probably have me flogged in the village square."

Renee laughed, her clear sweet voice vibrant in the warm summer air. "Does he love me, do you think?" She grinned wickedly at her mother.

"Well, of course, he loves you. He has spoken for you and your papa has given his consent. You will be married in the fall, when the priest comes from Fort  Beausejour. "   Her mother gave her a pointed look. "Until then, you must remember the lessons of the Holy Mother. You must go to your wedding bed a virgin. Anselm knows what is expected of him."

"But he has never spoken to me of love," she pouted. "Why would I love such a big, fumbling man, with no graces and the black, sooty hands of a blacksmith?"

"He is a blacksmith, ma fille. A fine man. A catch in this village. Your papa is very pleased with this match."

Renee tossed her head back, forgetting that her hair was pushed into the white mop cap that bounced to and fro with the movement. "He is rather handsome when he is clean, and he has a nice smile, don't you agree, Maman?"

Madame Legere flicked her dust cloth at her. "Go pick your flowers, you wild child. Your father will be much relieved when you are married. You grow less manageable with every season."

Renee laughed softly and blew her maman a kiss as she skipped away. Her father doted on her, his first-born daughter, and she knew the wedding had been delayed because he wanted to keep her under his roof for another summer. She adored her papa and laughed the loudest and longest at all his jokes. It had always been so between them.

Mayflowers grew along the river banks and her basket was mounded with the scented flowers when she stopped to adjust her hair, which threatened to spill over her face. She realized she had lost her cap in a previous entanglement with a low growing branch, and she was scanning the nearby trees for it when she heard the hoof beats and the voices of mounted men.

English soldiers! She didn't understand the words, but she recognized the accent. Soldiers from the new garrison beyond the river bend. Her heart pounded.

An uneasy truce existed between the French Acadians and the English soldiers. She had been warned time and again that the red coats were to be feared. Women, in particular, were in grave danger from these rough, mostly uneducated scoundrels. "Rapists and murderers, all of them," her father and brothers had cautioned her. "Hide as best you can if they approach you."

Renee picked up her basket and crouched behind a large patch of raspberry bushes. Laughter and pounding hooves sounded nearby as she held her breath. Then, amid shouted orders, they rode away. As she slowly raised her head, she saw him leaning against a maple, her white mop cap dangling from his fingers.

"Yours?" he asked. He was young, no more than thirty, and his flinty grey eyes raked across her crouching form with careless arrogance.

She hesitated only a moment before standing. She was not accustomed to looking up at anyone. In her village, she was considered very tall, for a girl, yet, he towered above her. He didn't wear a red coat. He was dressed in much finer fabric. His hose was white, as were his cuffs and lace shirt front. A blue silk coat strained across his wide shoulders.

He took a step towards her, but with a quick grab that almost threw her off balance, she pulled the cap from his hand. She had taken no more than four steps before he caught her, scooping her off her feet and holding her against him as she flayed her arms and kicked.

He restrained her against his body. "Calm down," he said quietly. "No one is hurting you. Shh, Shh, girl. Calm down, now."

Her hair fell around her face as she fought him and he laughed as he set her down against the tree. His hands entangled in the loose strands of hair, and he pulled her to him.  He kissed her, she, who had never felt the touch of a man, never before been kissed. And at first, he assailed her thus, his mouth unrelenting in its demands.   He cut off her screams and her breath with his mouth and whispered to her between kisses: "Beautiful! How beautiful you are.! Belle!"

She stopped struggling. and understood that he was moved by her beauty. She became aware of the clean taste of his mouth. As his kisses slowed and became gently sensuous, her lips softened and she responded to him.   Her ears warmed to his whispered entreaties, and she allowed him to worship her with his hands, until finally, he set her from him and patted the cap over her disheveled hair.

"Run away home, little girl," he said.   " I will wait for you here, tomorrow, at this time." His eyes pleaded with her. "Tomorrow."

She didn't speak the language, but she understood the meaning of the signs and the pointing of the shadows under the trees. He would return tomorrow.  She was free, and still a virgin. Her wedding would go on as planned. On trembling legs, she ran down the paths that led past her father's fields.

Why did she tell no one? Why did she return the next day? Again and again, she had met him, until her body burned to his touch and he owned her completely, commanded her with a look and in time, took her virginity, because she begged and offered herself to him.

Finally, she had broken her father's heart, devastated her family, and turned the entire village against her. She ran away with her English Lord and became his little Acadian Mistress.

He came to her nightly, in the house where he had settled her, in the village of Barrachois,. Many miles from her native Acadian village on the shores of the Acadian Peninsula, she was isolated from her people.  She lived in the shadows, addicted to her English lover. In everything but name, they lived as husband and wife. When the occasion called for it, he dressed her in finery and paraded her in front of  English society, what little there was of it in those villages.

In the privacy of their bedroom, she was his mistress, responding to his every whim, incapable of resisting the urges he awakened in her. But it was a mutual adoration and she knew that as much as he was capable, he loved her and was as obsessed with her as she with him. Nothing could separate them.

Not until she heard the plan while she hid in the library, tucked into a recess behind the draperies. Hardly breathing for fear of being discovered, Renee had overheard them speaking, her English Lord, and the General from the garrison.

Huddled over their maps, they spoke of the final solution for the rebellious Acadians who stubbornly refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance to the English king. They were to be removed from their lands, every last one of them, and transported in ships across the seas - to England, and France, and to whatever colonies would tolerate them. They would gather them all, her family, her friends, her people, and they would scatter them throughout the known world. L'Acadie would be no more. This plan was set in motion to be completed this very fall, in this year 1755, and that would be the end of her people.

She had made her own plans, then. With the aid of her Micmac friends, she had prepared to leave, through the forests and rivers. And now, tonight, she would put the plan into action. They waited for her now, a small Indian party, with horses and supplies. Boats had been arranged for the river passages. Their runners had gone on ahead. They were friends of the Acadians, these Micmac Indians. They would lead her home.

At least her family and friends would be saved. Her father had already been advised, and he had sent word that he would welcome her back . Ten years had passed since she had last seen any of them, and during that time, her lover had become everything to her. But this final solution, this evil, had revolted her and torn her from her heart's only passion.

She got up, naked, and walked across to the dressing table again. She picked up the bottle of distilled foxgloves, a gift from her friend, Annette, the Indian medicine woman. In large doses, the liquid would be fatal. If he awakened and prevented her from leaving, she would invite him to drink from the wine bottle next to the bed. It would be a small matter to add the contents of the vial to the wine. They would die together. The waiting men would leave without her if she didn't arrive before dawn. As she carefully deposited the vial on the night table, she heard his footsteps on the stairs.

Her breath caught in her throat as the door swung open. His eyes widened at sight of her and he pulled the door shut.   "Beautiful! You are always so beautiful, you steal my breath away." His hands were voracious and she trembled at his touch.

How would she live without him? She stood quietly in his arms, her eyes clouded with emotions. "Breathe on me," she whispered, as the air from his mouth wafted across her face. "Oh, yes, my darling. Just breathe on me."

And he did, and held her, and made wild, tender love to her, and slept.

In the dark of night, he snored gently as she slipped from their room. She leaned against the closed door, as tears coursed down her face. "Goodbye, my love," she whispered. She lifted the cloth bag higher on her hip and turned to meet her fate.


Strong Character contest entry

Recognized


In the fall of 1755, the Acadians, the French speaking settlers of the eastern coast of Canada, were gathered up and loaded onto ships. Those who made it were transported to France, England, the Islands, and whatever colonies could be coerced into accepting them. Many never made it to shore, and many who did died of starvation in strange lands. Families and lovers were separated, never to find each other again.

A few families took to the woods and lived with the Indian tribes, eventually wandering back to the shores. It was believed that the Acadian people would become a lost culture, but today, those few families who remained, along with the few who returned, have gathered together along the coastlines of the maritimes and now form a thriving French-speaking community, proudly identified as the Acadians.

In the United States, the Cajuns of Louisiana are believed to be descendants of the scattered Acadian people. In his epic poem, 'Evangeline', Longfellow writes a romanticised version of the separated lovers, Evangeline and Gabriel, who search for each other across the continent, only to find each other as Gabriel lies on his death bed. Beautiful, sad portrayal of a tragic historical event.
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