Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 10th, 1781

Finally I am able to breathe and to write at last. Such a tremendous number of things have happened since my last entry that it will take me many hours to recount them.

I was to meet my brother, Andre, and his fiancee Miss Delacoeur, at my chateau Lespinasse, but first I would stop in Lyon to pick up Thierry who was in flight from the Paris authorities who had been given a letter denouncing him as a spy and a traitor. I arrived in Lyon to find that he had not arrived. This turned out to be because he was nearly apprehended just outside of Lille where we last left each other, and only escaped by riding the mail coach out of town early one morning before the soldiers were inclined to check thoroughly every passing equipage.

Not knowing where he was or if he had been arrested I was distraught, but I determined to go on to Lespinasse where he would know to join me if he were able. Accordingly, I arrived at Lespinasse, let the small staff there know that we would be having guests, and prepared myself for their arrival by choosing meals and rooms and seeing that the parts of the chateau that are not in the best condition were sealed off.

A few days later they arrived with Marianne, and still no Thierry. Four days went by, we walked in the countryside, I showed them the fortress (for so it truly is, dating from a 12th century crusader), had a picnic in the shadow of the walls, and tried our best to entertain ourselves, but Lespinasse is very remote and there is little enough to do in its environs, except to worry about an absent love.

On the evening of the fifth day a message arrived which put my fears temporarily to rest. Thierry wrote that he was in the nearby village of Saint-Beauzire staying under the name of Roland Boucher. I told my guests that I had business there the next morning and went to bed. When I arose the next morning Marianne informed me that a visitor had arrived in the night, and that it was, in fact, the Marquis de Franconville aux Bois. He was breakfasting in the dining hall with Andre and Miss Delacoeur when I went down, and greeted me very cheerfully saying that he had heard in Lyon that I was here and could not resist seeing me. Knowing that he would watch my every move and probably could track every message I sent, I didn't dare send anything to Thierry much less go in person to Saint-Beauzire.

Duly for two days more we entertained ourselves. My guests, being well-informed of the failed marriage plans between F- and I, were somewhat discomfitted by his presence, though he remained pleasant and extremely attentive. It did not, therefore, surprise me when they announced their intent to journey home, and were prepared to do so on the eighth day. I tried to cajole them into staying, but with little incentive to offer it was a useless effort. Hearing one of my attempts F- assiduously suggested that when they left we might travel to Saint-Beauzire to visit the little town, making me think that he suspected T- of being there. I wrote within the hour to everyone I could think of in Auvergne who might come to Lespinasse to give me a reason to stay and distract F- from his purpose.

A few responded before the next day, but all declined to come, many of them with houseguests of their own. The morning broke, and the carriage was loaded. I was in despair as Andre and his fiancee took their leave, but as the carriage made to depart a rider appeared with another message, this one a response from Adrienne, with whom I had spent an entire summer two year prior. She wrote that she and her family would have been only too happy to come visit had I been at Saint Saturnin, which is not so far from her home in Briancon. I clapped my hands with joy and, wishing my brother well, fled into the house to my desk. I grabbed a passing servant on the way and told him to inform the house that we were to depart for Saint Saturnin at once. A few scribbled lines and a message was dispatched to Adrienne telling her that I was to be at Saint Saturnin on the morrow, and that I wanted very much to see she and her children.

In the bustle of packing, in which F- looked most irritable, I was able to write another note to T- telling him of my departure, but gave instructions that it should not be delivered until after F- had departed because I did not yet know if he would attempt to accompany me, go back to Paris or Franconville-aux-Bois, or go himself in search of Thierry. In the end he grumbled that he had business in Paris, and would leave the next day.

After a light lunch we set out and never was I more relieved to see my beloved Saint Saturnin, especially when I found that a note was waiting for me. It read "Dare not linger in Saint-Beauzire. Gone to Marseille to take ship. Meet there by July 23rd if you can." It was by now June 23rd and I knew that the money couldn't last much longer than a month. Adrienne and her three children, all much grown, arrived three days later and proceeded to stay much longer than I had thought. Emiline is old enough to be married now at the age of 15, fully half my age and is quite a beauty. Her sister, Bethanie-Marie, was away at a convent school most of the year, but is home now for a while, she is very quiet and shy. The little boy, Charles, is only 4 and like all small children loves to run and talk incessantly. I began to worry by the 15th of July if they would ever leave, and had received no further communication from T- though I had sent word of my situation. No doubt he thought it foolish for me to have houseguests at a time like that, but they kept F- from following me.

Finally on the 20th they departed, and once more I had the carriage packed, I took all of the coin I could muster and ran the horses at a most frightful pace over the mountains of Auvergne for two days, finally arriving on the 22nd in Marseille. It was a difficult thing to track down Thierry, but once I found him it was a joyous reunion. We were able to locate a priest who would dispense with the bans and agreed to marry us. We wasted no time on new clothes or flowers, but only a simple gold ring which Thierry had waiting upon my arrival. At four o-clock in the afternoon we were married and never was anything more sweet than to gaze upon the face of my husband and see my love returned.

A few days of travel arrangements and we sailed for Italy where we remain in a beautiful Palazzo in Venice awaiting word of Thierry's exoneration. Soon we must decide whether I return to France or not, for the money is running very low. That is a concern for another day, however. Today is for lying in each other's arms, listening to the lapping of the canal.

Olympe, Comtesse

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