Athos Ch. 04bytamKitten69©
A BIG Thank You! to my editor for everything you've done with this story.
Chapter: 04 How Monique made a change to her plans
Agnan awoke early next morning, to the sound of the birds singing their morning songs. As he arose from bed and walked to his wardrobe, he noticed the letter on a nearby table. Agnan had almost forgotten about the letter and its mysterious sender; he shrugged his shoulders and continued dressing. An hour later he ordered his horse to be saddled, for he had important business with the owner of a small cottage on the outskirts of Berry. The cottage was built from stone; almost like an odd castle, it had a small round tower with the main house strangely placed on the side like a young child had taken a tall tube and a rectangular box and placed them together. Although strange in appearance the house had a beautiful setting, the red morning sun was just rising over a mountain behind the little cottage and gave the gray stones of the cottage an eerie glow, Agnan felt almost envious of the cottage.
Our young Comte rode up to the cottage at a steady pace. Dismounting his horse, Agnan walked gracefully to the wooden front door but before he could knock a frail old man opened the door slowly.
"Good day to you sir." said Agnan while bowing.
"Good day. May I ask who you are and why you are on my land?" the old man replied slowly and clearly.
"I am M. Agnan Comte de la Fere and I have come here on the rumor that your beautiful house is for sale."
"I am honored by the interest you have taken in my humble cottage, Monsieur, but do you not have a grander home on your own?"
"Ah, you are right but I wish to buy your house for a friend."
The old man smiled as if he knew the reason behind Agnan's generosity.
"Very well, Monsieur, I will sell you my house for five hundred francs."
Agnan was slightly taken back by the old man's eagerness in selling his home but thought little of it, the deal was made and Agnan promised to return that afternoon with the money.
While Agnan was admiring the sight of the strange cottage, two shadows appeared riding along the road to Berry, past the little forest where they halted suddenly. Both were dressed in long brown, heavy riding coats and a large black hat which made it impossible for anyone to see their faces and anyone who happened to spot these two shadows racing along the road would presume it to be men eager to arrive at their destination. One of the riders dismounted his horse and pulled a bag from a pouch on his horse's saddle and disappeared behind a bush, while the other waited for his companion. His ears were met with the sound of rustling and twigs breaking; the rider couldn't help but silently laugh as he listening to his companion lose the fight with a bush. The rustling was broken by a voice, "Bah, hang it!"
A short silence passed before the other rider emerged from behind the bush disheveled, with a few twigs and leaves in his now long, flowing hair, the mounted rider smiled partly to his battered companion, partly to cover a small laugh.
"Not one word, Bernard!" Monique said half angry, half embarrassed while she tired to straighten her patched pale blue dress. Bernard dismounted his horse still with a smile on his face, walked up to Monique and brushed some dirt from her shoulder, then brought his left hand close to her cheek and brushed the leaves and twigs from her hair.
He leaned close to her ear and whispered,
"How is it that you can fight off twenty men without acquiring a single scratch and yet you lose a fight with a single bush?"
Monique giggled realizing her foolishness. Before she could stop herself, Monique put her arms around Bernard's neck and they embraced each other as if the world around them had melted away. What felt like an eternity passed before the two separated, still lost in each other's eyes. Monique was the first to regain her senses and break the silence, her voice was barely a whisper .
"We must continue if we are to complete our mission."
Bernard's eyes became glazed and a look of worry washed over his face.
"This will be the last... the order has promised."
"The order has promised many things, Monique."
Monique's eyes glazed with tears as she quickly moved away from Bernard and made a movement to remount her horse, still standing on the road, pawing the ground with impatience.
"You are not bound to the order as I am. If you wish to leave, then do so."
Kicking her horse Monique left Bernard and galloped towards Berry at fast has her horse's legs could carry her. Let us respectably leave Bernard to gather his senses and return to Agnan who has returned to his home and is relaxing in his usual manner - dueling servants in the garden. As Agnan was preparing to begin another duel with a second servant, a valet entered announcing someone at the door requesting to speak with him.
"Did he give a name?"
"She, sir," the valet corrected.
Agnan's ears pricked up. "Maybe it was Anne but she would give her name," he thought to himself, "unless she did not want anyone to know she was here." Then to the valet, he said, "Very well. Send her in."
Within two minutes a young woman appeared with the valet. She was wearing a pale blue dress which had been poorly patched in places. The woman herself had a fair completion; her long black hair was slightly matted and she was covered in dust from the road. The girl appeared to be very shy and timid; she had followed the valet with her eyes to the floor and her hands behind her back. Although she was beautiful, Agnan thought her looks barely compared to Anne.
Agnan approached her and bowed gracefully "Welcome to Berry. I am Comte Agnan de la Fere and you are?"
"I am Constance de Vullon, at your service, Comte," the girl replied gracefully.
"Ah, yes, the girl who's father has sent to work for me. But I was under the impression that a servant would be accompanying you, Mademoiselle"
"Bernard!" she thought, and then aloud, "Yes, I did have a servant with me but...he...he fell ill during the journey and will not be joining me."
Agnan cocked his brows. "This girl is very odd," he thought to him-self before saying to the girl, "I am sorry to hear that...I hope he hasn't caught anything serious."
"Oh, no, nothing serious, Milord," she replied, then mumbled under her breath, "Only the deserter's bug."
"Very well." Agnan rang a small bell and an elderly woman appeared. "This woman will take you to the maid's quarters and will explain the rules of the house and your duties."
Constance bowed to le Comte and followed the woman to her new home.
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