Authors: Carl Leckey
I detect the sound of voices in the foyer. “Is that agreeable Peter?”
“Yes.” He replies as Daisy bursts into the room.
After a long talk with Daisy about school, the beach and Pegasus I finally persuade Denise reluctantly to come to our room alone. Denise is not too happy about being separated from her beloved Daisy so soon after arriving. In our room I ask her to sit while I tell her something of great importance. She gives me one of those looks I know so well and slumps on the side of the bed with an impatient sigh.
“Denise I have asked you to be alone with me for a very good reason. Don’t be upset, I know you would sooner be with Daisy. Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you as I need your advice. First of all I must tell you the Marquis has died.” She replies angrily. “Surely that is good news and a reason to celebrate. I don’t see why you had to bring me up here to tell me that. Does Louise know?”
I then relate the information Father Peter has given me regarding her Sister’s heritage. At first she doesn’t respond then as a tear appears in her eye she says. “I always knew there was something I didn’t understand. Thinking back to my childhood the old Marquis always treated Louise different to Yvette and me. How could Mother keep the secret from us? What about my Father, did he know? Oh Adam what will Louise do, she hates the chateau? I can’t take this in. If she was the Marquis child how could he allow her to be treated as a servant in such a manner? That is what Mother was referring to just before she died.”
Mystified I enquire. “What do you mean Denise?” Denise began to cry I take her in my arms and hug her close to me.
In between sobs she relates her Mother’s last words. “My Sister’s and I sat around her bed the doctor told us she was dying. Mother rallied for a moment opened her eyes ignoring Yvette and I she took Louise’s hand and said. “I am leaving you with a big problem my dear forgive me for not telling you before.” They were her last words and they were definitely directed to Louise. I recall being angry at the time because she had particularly singled her out. I wished she had held my hand as she passed away. What a horrible selfish girl I was.”
I comfort her “Don’t be silly Denise you were just a child at the time.” Father Peter has letters and papers that prove Louise is the rightful heir to all of the Marquis’s possessions He has not sorted through all of them yet but it is certain she is now entitled to be a Marquise.”
I follow up with the big question. “The point is Denise only you, myself and Father Peter know the whole truth. Do we tell your Sister?”
She responds without hesitation. “Of course you must tell her, and right away.”
I respond with a question. “That reminds me, there is something I have been meaning to ask you for a while. Tell me Denise, how did your Mother come to be in France? Isn’t it coincidental my Mother is French and yours is English? That was something I didn’t take into account when I applied for a British Passport. I wonder if I am entitled to a French passport. I heard it is possible to have dual nationality? And does the same apply to you for a British passport, disregarding the fact we are married? I do believe it only applies if your Father is a citizen of the country. I shall have to check on that when I have a chance. Gunter will know for sure I’ll ask him.”
Denise replies angrily. “Surely it is irrelevant now, as for how my Mother came to be in France? Louise knows the full story. I understand she came over to be a governess and tutor to Raymond the young Marquis. His Father wanted him to be taught English. Mother was well educated you know, she spoke a few other languages also. I remember she told us they wouldn’t give her the position at a university she was qualified for because she was a woman. Maybe Louise will tell us the full story.
If she doesn’t know maybe the letters Father Peter has might reveal all. How are you going to break the news to my Sister, it will have to be done with care?” Denise adds thoughtfully. “You know Adam now I have recovered from the initial shock I realise this is quite exciting.
Louise will be able to right all the wrongs in the chateau and the village. It has great possibilities and my Sister is the one to sort things out believe me. She is very much like our Mother.”
What I can’t bring myself to inform Denise is the secret Louise revealed to me about the affair with Raymond, the scoundrel. I have always believed Louise will tell her Sisters herself when she is ready. Maybe when this other business is disclosed it will be an opportune moment to divulge all the details of that sorry chapter in her life?
I make a suggestion based on what the Priest and I spoke about. “Well Denise, you know Gunter is here? I think we should let him see the papers to confirm things before we go any further. What do you think?” Denise replies thoughtfully. “Louise would not thank us for keeping this away from her. She is very strong willed Adam. You should tell her right away and if Louise decides to claim the inheritance she will be the one to let Gunter investigate. After all, it is her business.” Accepting her advice I suggest. “Alright, it’s your decision, there is no time like the present, let’s get it over with. Do you want me or Father Peter present when you break the news?” Denise reacts in a shocked voice. “You present? I assume you are going to tell her? I’ll keep Daisy out of the way while you speak with her. Take Father Peter with you if you must. But I definitely think it will be better coming from you. I know she values your opinion.” I object. “Oh! No Denise! I don’t fancy being the one to break the news thank you very much.” She continues in a very persuasive manner. “Oh yes my love. Look how you talked her into making up with Billy when they had that tiff? Anyway I have a feeling my Sister still considers me a child at times. This is without a doubt grownups business.” Hesitantly I repeat not fully convinced I want to be involved. “Oh I don’t know my love? She is your Sister and this is family business?” Denise gives me one of her lovely smiles wraps herself around me and whispers in a sultry manner. “Please Adam. Do this tiny little favour for me Cheri and Denise will do a great big favour for her big brave husband? Louise is your family as much as mine now.” I try to resist her but my Wife has learned a few tricks since we married I feel myself weakening. “I really don’t want to get involved Denise?”
She hugs me closer and begins passing her hand up and down the outside of my trousers. She senses triumph as Jolly Roger betrays me. She continues persuading me with her hand as well as her voice. “Besides you have spent more time with her than me in the last few months.”
The buttons on my fly are undone in a very skilful manner. Jolly Roger makes a break for freedom only to be captured by Denise. She continues as my breath begins to come in rasps. Jolly Roger’s fate is now well and truly in her hands. Denise explains. “I never saw much of her for years after she left the chateau. Except that is when she came back when it was a hospital nursing the wounded Tommy’s?” She drops to her knees in front of me my resistance is nearly overcome. She senses victory rises to her feet and steers me towards the bed still feebly resisting. Denise makes another point as she sheds her cloths and we flop onto the bed clinging together. “You know what it was like? We were kept busy from dawn to dusk. And then there was Grand Father? Need I say more?”
I don’t reply I have other things on my mind at this moment in time and it is certainly not her Sister. My final resistance has gone as she mounts me. How can I refuse such a plea from my lovely Wife even though I admit to myself I am very apprehensive she finally persuades me to divulge the information to Louise?
That is the trouble with women when it suits them they use unfair but nice tactics. As we lay together afterwards we plan our next move. Denise will take Daisy to see the gardens and the pond while I corner her Sister using the excuse I want to talk transport business with her before the meeting.
When we arrive at the lounge Louise is in the company of Father Peter. Daisy has gone to the kitchen with Marguerite to teach the chef how to make cakes. Denise makes an excuse and leaves me to it. They are discussing problems of obtaining petrol in remote areas when I take a seat.
In a break in the conversation I enquire. “Have you mentioned anything Peter?”
“No I haven’t are you going to tell Louise now?” He enquires. “Yes Denise advised me to do so, to be honest I am doing it reluctantly.” I confess.
He enquires. “Do you want me to be present Adam?” I reply hesitantly. “May I have a few minutes on my own with Louise, Peter? Please stay close at hand though.” Peter rises from his chair and says as he leaves. “I shall be in the reception. I need to make a telephone call anyway. Give me a call if you need me Adam?” He leaves the room.
Louise enquires. “What’s all this about then? Has my Sister Yvette been up to something again?” “No Louise it is nothing to do with your Sister. What I am about to disclose concerns you.” I move a chair closer so that I am facing Louise. I take her hand she looks mystified. “Louise, Denise has asked me to break this news to you she believes I am able to do it better than her. Considering what you told me at the farm she is most probably right. Incidentally, I kept that to myself. Neither Denise nor Yvette is aware of how you suffered in the hands of that swine Raymond. They should be told Louise? They will understand why you hate the Marquis so much. Right here we go, for better or for worse. You know Raymond is dead?” She nods. I then relate the facts as told to me by Father Peter. Surprisingly she takes the news calmly I should have expected this from Louise she is a remarkable woman and I continually underestimate her. After I have finished giving her the details she remarks. “I always felt there was something between Mother and Raymond’s Father. I wasn’t certain as I was only young girl when he passed away. Huh! It was not unusual for nobility to have Mistresses it looks like my Mother was his plaything. Like Father like Son, it evidently runs in that family.” Louise considers what I have revealed for a few moments before stating.
“It is all very well assuming I will be the heir to the estate but I am illegitimate in the eyes of the law. I believe I have no claim to anything. Besides why should I accept the inheritance to help Raymond gain access to heaven?”
“I don’t know if that is why he did it Louise? Without beneficiaries the whole caboodle with go to the state if the French law is the same as in Britain.
My associate Gunter is staying at the hotel he is joining OSCADA as an investor and our legal advisor. Gunter is a top class lawyer he will give us advice on that and other matters. That is if you decide to claim the estate of the Marquis?”
“Adam at this moment I have no idea what to do. I am happy with the life I am leading but at the same time I see the opportunity to improve the lot of the people at the chateau and in the village.”
Louise appears uncertain what she should do next. I try another tack. “Let me get Father Peter back in here. He will tell you exactly what happened when he saw the Marquis for the last time. Louise, he is aware of what happened between yourself and Raymond isn’t he?”
“Yes Father Peter knows all about it. His predecessor confessed his part in it before he died. Without Father Peter’s support I would not have survived. Adam, before we go any further with this I would like time to go through the papers and letters. There might be things in there about Mother I would like to see. There could be other information I would not like to see publicised. It doesn’t only concern me? Denise and Yvette are entitled to know about Mother as well. Do you understand what I mean?”
“Of course I do Louise that’s a good idea. I’ll get Father Peter to give the papers to you. You can select what you want to keep separate for the family. Anything you are not sure of I will have Gunter examine for you.” Giving her hand a gentle squeeze I take my leave of her.
I find Father Peter in the garden with Denise and Daisy. He agrees to my suggestion and immediately enters the hotel retrieves the papers then hands them over to Louise. She retires to her room to study the sheaf of letters and papers. I have made it a rule that no OSCADA business is to be discussed today we are here for a break and to enjoy each other’s company, thankfully everyone abides by the decision. We have a wonderful day playing on the beach with Daisy, in the afternoon we explore the local area. At seven o’clock we all gather for pre dinner drinks in the lounge. Louise is the last to arrive and I see by her troubled expression she has a lot on her mind. When I have the opportunity to speak to her alone I enquire. “I know we decided not to discuss business until tomorrow but you look like you have the burdens of the world on your shoulders, can I help?” She replies with a definite look of relief on her face. “Dear Adam, you are so right. You know it’s not the company business that concerns me. I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to you. I have studied most of the papers. It appears he accepted me as his legal Daughter there is no disputing that in my opinion. What is more it is the first time I have seen my own birth certificate. The old Marquis is definitely registered as my Father. Looking at the dates registered on the forms this is long before Mother met my Father or should I say my Step Father. At least that makes me feel a little better, my Mother wasn’t deceiving him. According to some of the letters I have read the old Marquis asked Mother to marry him after his Wife died. It appears they were separated for years but they could not divorce because of their religion. For some reason she refused. I can’t help wondering why Mother refused to marry him. It never entered my head to question her about her past to be honest I didn’t know she had one. My adopted Father and Mother appeared so happy.” She pauses for a moment then she adds thoughtfully. “I don’t suppose we will ever know now.” She adds, “but on your advice I will seek the help of your friend Gunter to clarify the situation.
I have a few ideas I would like to sound out on him but first I wish to consult with Billy. Denise. Yvette. Paul, and yourself, and oh yes! I would like Father Peter to be present also. After the company meeting tomorrow may we get together to discuss my ideas.