The Cardinal's Sin - chapter 18 - A Country Wedding

A Country Wedding

St. Nizier Church, was not particularly small. The side chapel, though, was tiny and filled to overflowing, for the quickly arranged and very simple wedding. At the moment the priest declared them ‘Man and Wife’ a strictly non-traditional cheer went up round them, which echoed in the large nave beside.

When they had arrived back at the inn earlier they were met by a beaming inn-keeper and staff. All of the musicians they happened across, also met them with smiles and winks. It didn’t take much to realise they had been spotted in the town, and while this was the plan, it nevertheless took them by surprise. When la Motte asked, if anyone might help in arranging a quick wedding he was, by that point, unsurprised to find a boy had already alerted the local priest, and the musicians had even chosen the tunes they wished to play at the ceremony. They had invited themselves, so as not to worry the couple with details.

That evening, the troupe leader had paid for a modest feast, insisting they had only come to Troyes at the last moment, and had been handsomely paid for the engagement. The wedding guest list, was not the longest, nor was it the richest, but it was among the happiest witnessed in that inn, for many a year.

Françoise, in spite, or perhaps because of, her more than knowing upbringing, was evidently a romantic at heart. She had fixed up a bridal suite with wild flowers and the freshest linen the inn could provide, along with, what seemed to Jeanne to be every spare candle in the place. So, by the time she and la Motte, made a tipsy entrance to the bedroom, the romance of the day’s events was firmly fixed in everyone’s minds. The musicians even played beneath their window, a slightly baudy song to point them in the right direction, for the rest of the night.

About an hour before that moment, Jeanne had pulled Francoise aside, with a request for some help moving her things, from her room, to the bridal suite. Once in her room, with the door closed, Jeanne sat on the bed and with a look somewhere between concern and abject terror asked,


“Yes… what’s wrong?” Jeanne just stared at her and as tears began to form,

“Oh my God.” said Francois, and she blessed herself. Jeanne nodded silently, and looked at her hands which were seemingly trying to crush each other.

“I never thought this would be a problem, I mean, people said…” said the amazed Francoise.

“Yes, people know nothing. I thought I’d have time, I didn’t think it would be so suddenly upon me.”

“But, you were free to… did you not feel the urge?”

“Yes, but you don’t need men for that.”

“…And you at that nice convent.”

“There, in particular. But… there were no men, so it didn’t come up.”

Francoise stared for a moment and then tried to suppress the laugh. Jeanne heard herself, and she made no attempt to stop. When they had settled down.

“Oh, you rich girls, you really know nothing. You don’t have to… you know… do anything.” said Francoise.

“So I’ve been told. But, if I don’t do… he’ll know, I’m innocent. La Motte has been drinking, what will he do?”

Françoise shrugged “He’ll probably laugh, knowing him. Still, it’s not ideal. What are you going to do with the Cardinal, I thought the idea was to bed him. He won’t be impressed with innocence.”

“It is the idea. I don’t know what I was thinking. At first, it was just get him alone, and then gut him like a fish.”

Francoise nodded and sat beside her, “That was a good plan.” Jeanne agreed,

“But then the Italian and la Motte, don’t want to be executed for murder, and it’s all gotten so complicated.” And she started to tear up again, and Francoise put her arm round her.

“Look, tell me what you need to know, we can explain to la Motte and, you know, he can even teach you things, for when you are with the Cardinal.” And she blessed herself again. Jeanne turned, a little encouraged,

“So, how much do you know?” Francoise asked.

“Like I said I… nothing.”

“Nothing? That’s quite a lot, you must know something. Everyone knows something.” Jeanne shook her head and tears came again.

“Ok, nothing, ok, I think I can remember back that far…”

And she followed with a short lesson on the, ins and outs of lovemaking, with some hint that there were finer points, which could come later.

So it was that, as the band wandered away, and la Motte lifted her in his arms and placed her on the bed, she was only a little terrified. He looked at her, and sat beside her and kissed her forehead, and smiled.

“So madame, I have been threatened this evening, in a way no man should be on his wedding night, at the point of a knife, that, if I am anything less than gentle with you, I shall be less of a man than I wish to be, in short order.”

She smiled and coloured, “Francoise?”

“The same. You might have given me a hint.”

“I thought you would guess, from the kiss.”

“No madame, your kissing is above average, no hint there.”

She allowed herself a light laugh, “I … there was no opening to bring it up. “How did you sleep? Oh by the way, I’m a virgin.” …You see?”

“I do. Anyway. Do you still want to go through with this plan?”

Jeanne gathered her legs up onto the bed and wrapped her arms round them. “I do. He cannot be allowed to go on doing that, even if the victim were not my sister.”

“It is the way of the world, madame.”

“I know. But it shouldn’t be, and I can’t do something about the world, but I can do this.”

“Alright, but if you are to do this then you’ll have to be prepared. Men like the Cardinal, are rarely straightforward in their pleasures.”

Her head popped up at that and turned on its side, “I don’t understand.”

“No, and I’m not surprised, but it’s not all bad, you have things to learn and it can be quite fun you know, sinning.”

“You’re going to show me the scenic route to damnation are you?”

“The heavenly way madame, heaven, cannot be so boring nor hell so much fun, if the hints of the saintly are to be believed.”

“Heaven it is then.”

“We’ll begin like this…” and he leaned forward and began to kiss her very gently and carefully, cupping her neck in his hand…

Breakfast, the next morning was all smiles. Francoise joined them, and Jeanne, answered the questioning look with a tight squeeze of her hand. Even the most jaded of the musicians, were impressed and, truth be told, a little jealous. The nights followed the days, and the couple certainly advertised to the world, all that a young married couple should be, but often isn’t.

It was the day the musicians were about to leave. Jeanne and la Motte had had another thoroughly enjoyable, ‘lesson’, in the art and pleasure of sex. They were dressing, about to go down to breakfast, Jeanne looking through her things, brought, almost as an after thought to their room, on the night of the marriage. Everything had simply been left in a large heap, which Jeanne pulled about each morning looking for the next thing to wear. Spotting the very thing she was looking for, under one side of the heap, the collapse, long expected, happened. Everything spread across the floor, in a sort of slow eruption. La Motte, waiting by the door, bent down as one particular item came to rest at his foot, a pistol.

He frowned and lifted it up. He had seen it before of course. Twice, in fact, but the memory, nudged in Cagliostro’s apartments, now grew to full bloom, as he was back in a jewellers in Paris wondering if he were about to die.


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