Monday, January 16, 2012

Bois de Boulogne

Paris, 25th September 1713

Putting her horse to step, Claire Baizanville toured the main path of Bois de Boulogne, seeking the roundabout where Marquis of Vilana had summoned her. She found him easily, just where expected, quietly contemplating the squirrels from branch to branch while his horse grazed freely.

Claire was amazed at his ability to find delightment in such simple things. But she understood perfectly: they had accomplished their diplomatic mission with a success and the Montesa clergyman had been delivered to French authorities, who held him in a luxury sanatorium. Freed from their duties by the Marquis of Vilana, the soldiers of his retinue had decided going for some celebration, and at that time they'd likely be snoring in the arms of any dissolute girl...

But she delt deeply troubled instead, uncomfortable with such forced inactivity. Even more uncomfortable in a metropolis like Paris, where she had left many enemies behind in the past. Enough to fear a bad encounter at every turn: spurned suitors, baffled lenders, humiliated officers... Consequently, Claire was the only one in the company still surreptitiously armed to the teeth...

As soon as he recognized her, the Marquis outlined a frank smile: --My dear Claire, I am so happy at your company! ...wish I was only ten years younger, as to properly court you...

Claire could not repress a smile. The Marquis always had a compliment ready for her. Responding to the Legacy cordial invitation, she agreed to sit beside him. The Marquis glanced for long at her before continuing: --Claire, I'd like to wholeheartedly thank your dedication. You have amply fulfilled all expectations about you. Perhaps you'd like to know that I've written a letter of recommendation to your superiors, as well as the Prince President himself. Your dedication deserves a reward.

Claire whispered some thankful words, concealing her disappointment. The mission had been completed, so she ought to go back to Monte-Cristo. End of adventures. The Marquis studied her reaction, and then he drawed a cunning smile and added: --I'm wondering whether you still would have the time to do one last thing for me...

--And then, Sire?

--I'd like to entrust you a last mission. I have 2 messages for you --and gave her two wax sealed envelopes--. You should go to Vienna and hand deliver them to their respective recipients.

Vienna? ...when Claire looked at the names written on envelopes, could not prevent an exclamation of surprise: --The Emperor himself?

--Yes, Claire. And the other one is for the Princess Elisenda.

--And afterwards?

--You should accompany Princess Elisenda and ensure her safety, as you did with me. I'll be waiting for you both here in Paris.

4 comments:

abdul666 said...

Claire is eager to meet Her Highness: she was not yet in Monte-Cristo when young Elisenda was studying there, but she heard a *lot* about the brilliant, and yet genial, mischievous girl -including that, according to the Weaponmistress of the School, for a philosopher, she was very good with a sword.

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

Some days ago, I guessed that Claire woulnd't be any happy at all at the prospective of lazily waiting in Paris for the arrival of Princess Elisenda from Vienna. I imagined instead that it would be somehow stressing to her --due to the permanent risk of being recognized by any enemy of old-- and guessed that Marquis of Vilana would also perceive such risk.

So that I took some advantage of the chronological gap between Marquis of Vilana's retinue and the rest of my Imagi-Nation. In such a way that by mid-September, after the meeting with Duke of Orléans, Claire is ordered to go to Vienna with a couple of letters, which are actually delivered a few days later (Gloriette scene).

And by this I also got ensured that Princess Elisenda would be travelling with the best escort she can be assigned, for obviously Claire is already accompanying her --albeit conveniently disguised.

Or, didn't you recognize the young manservant ever present at all the pictures taken by Allan at Wittenberg? ;)

(Yes, Allan is into the plot too)

abdul666 said...

"the young manservant"
in baggy clothes -a lot to conceal, of diverse nature :)

While of extremely humble extraction (at barely 15 at most she had to masquerade as a boy and join a ship crew to avoid prostitution) Claire is not in awe of the highest aristocracy: when a professional duelist she was paid by dukes to kill men of princely blood.
But she knows her manners and will duly address Princess Elisenda as 'Your Highness' -though most people having known Elisenda when a student in Monte-Cristo still fondly refer to her as 'Lisette'!

Soldadets said...

Mmmmm... "Lisette", you say? Good, good to know... :D