(A Winter'sTale)

Part II


Translation: Natalie Guillaumier 

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Days had passed. Oscar was under shock. She had closed herself up to the world and she refused to talk to anybody. Her bruises and scratches were still conspicuous. She was in pain and full of cuts and lacerations and she needed assistance, something to lean on,  just to walk. She felt guilty for that fact that she had not imagined that there could have been a trap behind the request to go to see the Queen. She felt frustrated, used, deprived of the ability to choose anything. She suddenly felt faced with the most difficult reality of a woman’s condition. She would have wanted that the people around her did not exist, or at least, that they were far away and that they would go just as far to expound their moralistic opinions. Her father, after having violently hit André, for not having taken care of her the way he should, had an absolute fit – accusing her of having no common sense, apart from the fact that the possibility of a reparatory marriage with Girodel had to be considered. Her mother could not fathom how to behave in such a situation. After all, she had always spent, though not of her own free will, very little time with Oscar, for which reason it was very hard for her to get close especially in this circumstance. Even Nanny didn’t know what to do.  She tried to lovingly take care of her, but she knew that the girl’s mind was a thousand miles away. To top it all up, she also did not waste time in chiding that good for nothing nephew of hers! Ah well, now even he had wounds… poor André… right… he was the only one who did not make her feel abnormal, or, perhaps, it was just that he was the only person that she wanted near at the moment. He had saved her… he remained close to her, as if he was a part of her. Without words. With his presence alone. Just by looking at eash other. In silence.


The first time that he had entered the room after having brought her back home, she was sitting on the bed, surrounded and held upright by soft cushions. It was hard for André to face the hurt expression in her eyes,  the bruises on her face and the obvious marks that the tight ropes had left on her wrists. Both knew in what condition he had found her and seen her. He moved closer to her, tenderly taking her hands in his, afraid to hurt her more than she had already been. He looked down at her hands and saw those bright red lashes on them. Then he sat by her, his all too shiny eyes looking straight into hers.

And she had lowered her gaze, trying to hide her face and crying in silence “I’m sorry…forgive me…I can’t….”

He draped his arm around her shoulders, slowly caressing her hair. “I’m sorry…” was all he managed to say.

He always had to be very careful not to cross the line with her. It was hard… He knew that, at that moment, Oscar needed him, she relied on him, but he was afraid of ruining everything. He feared that, with some stupid action on his part, he would have betrayed her trust and she would shut him out. He had to set his feelings aside and only be her very best friend. This was the only way to keep her faith in him. “On the other hand – he said to himself – am I trying to hide my love because of this violent incident that just occurred?” “Can it be that I am scared to face this situation?” “And will she feel worse if she sees me more distant, more than I was before?” “Will she feel rejected?” It was difficult. He really cared for her. He wanted to be close to her, but he also wanted her to gain her serenity back. For a while now, their relationship had been changing day after day… and he realized that. They were much closer than they had ever been. It was as if he was more important now, for Oscar, than he had ever been… She sought him out and never left his side; she was sweeter, more mellow and more open, even physically. At times he noticed that she looked at him with that strange look in her eyes, and he found himself returning that gaze just as intensely. Sometimes the opposite happened – or rather, it started the opposite way. Then at other times he noticed that she made it so she would be close to him all the time, even when she usually would not have to or shouldn’t. But what had just happened could ruin all this. He had to be close to her and not think about it… Even after the whole incident, she wanted him around… but everything had become much more difficult no. Perhaps he was the only person whom she could confide in without feeling too embarrassed. Perhaps she needed him or his calm disposition. But he wasn’t exactly calm! He would have killed Girodel and risked the death penalty if Oscar had not been there and did not need immediate attention. He had to think about her… this was the nature of the problem – putting her before himself.

When he was alone in the tower, he started rethinking the whole incident. He could not believe it. His very own Oscar… He grabbed his face with his hands. What had they done to her…What had they done to her…those beasts! She was left alone in Girodel’s hands – and then she had to endure all that happened…terrorized, incredulous. Humiliated. Why hadn’t he been more careful? He felt as if he was going crazy. It was not only the thought that somebody else had touched her…no…he shook his head….it wasn’t mere jealousy…even though he was maddeningly jealous. It was fact that he felt useless in the unfolding of events, the fact that he could not have prevented any of it and had no premonition…after all, all he had to do was follow her. It was the horrifying thought of the torture and brutality she had to endure; imagining how she could have felt. She was so proud, independent, strong. She was used to dealing with men as her equals…and often, she even superseded them with reason and intelligence. With incredible effort, she had managed to balance her feelings with her particular situation, too often repressing her own self, her dreams and desires…But now she had to deal with this…She felt powerless….she could not handle the situation. He felt that he had to protect her, but he understood that he could not put pressure on her, that he had to leave her alone, so the pain, anger and humiliation could go away.

He was the one to whom, one day, she had related what had happened – with her head bowed down, her voice shaky – without knowing exactly why.

“I’m sorry”, she added. “I would have never have wanted it to happen this way.”

He had not said a word.

“I.. thought that…”

“Oscar…”, he interjected, “one day you will want to make love with someone you really love…and then…I would want you to consider that to be your first time. This was mere violence, an act of brutality…”

“Perhaps… but it doesn’t change what happened…” she pointed out, sadly. “I wanted to remember…” she tried to find the right words “…something that was sweet, someone that loved me…whom I loved…”

André was speechless, surprised.

“I would have…wanted that…it happened with someone…like…you.”

André was incredulous.

She had lowered her head, her face red with embarrassment, realizing only too late what she had just said. A silent moment, then “Have you ever done it before?” she asked him like thunder in the darkness. Then, abruptly, she turned her head away. “Forgive me…it was a stupid question to ask…” It was a moment of normality that had escaped her. This was the beauty of her endless discussions with André: changing the wavelength from one moment to the next, without worries… the ability to communicate freely. There was a pause in the conversation. Oscar seemed to anxiously await an answer from him.

“No…I haven’t done it yet.” answered André, with a slow but clear voice.

She seemed relieved. “It’s strange,” said Oscar, suddenly very eloquent, perhaps due to the embarrassment, “usually men experience things earlier on in life, with prostitutes, or maids, anyhow with women whom they would not choose to be their wives… ah well, at least I can console myself that Girodel has not used me in one of these experimental ways!” she blurted out, almost for want of dedramatizing. André smiled. If Oscar started to ironize on what had happened, perhaps they were on the road to recovery.

“Anyway… it happens to men…”

André conceded “Yes, it does happen… but I am a person of sensitive heart, so I have preferred to wait” he declared, jokingly.

Oscar seemed to be taken by this “Well, perhaps it’s more normal than we think… it has never happened to be because of the way I have lived – apart from… what has happened to me – but think of all the arranged marriages. Many people get married so young for convenience’ sake. Perhaps then in those cases, which constitute the majority, it makes sense not to tie sex, love and marriage together…”

André raised his eyebrows, “It could be.”

“Why did you wait?” she started again, cornering him.

“It just hasn’t happened…”


“I would have preferred to do it with the person I’m in love with…” he explained, embarrassed.

“Right. I would have liked that too.” She murmured.

“We were talking about choices. What has happened to you was not your choice.” André patiently pointed out. He did not want her to start thinking about it again. He was ready to be a guinea pig.

“So is there anyone… are you together?” Oscar’s revenge.

“Yes… or rather…. No”

Perplexed but interested at the same time, she put on her questioning, interrogatory look.

“There is someone, but we are not together. She is not interested at all in me!” He got up “Now I have to go and get you your dinner.”

“No!” he grabbed him by the arm. “No! I want you to stay….and tell me about it!”

Oh my God, this was torture. Why was she so insistent? She knew that he had been in love with her; he had told clearly spelt it out to her at least a couple of times, even in a passionate way (however passionate the conversation between a timid and a drunken person can be)!? And did the doubt not come to her blessed head that he might still be in love with her? “What do you want me to tell you about?” he sat down again, patient.

“Everything!” she exclaimed triumphantly and innocently in a way that only she could get away with.

That’s easy you would think, he thought. But notwithstanding, with all this enthusiasm Oscar was showing after such a long time… “She is a very beautiful girl, a little younger than me.” Let’s see if this would alarm her a little, he thought.

“Where does she live?” she asked.

“Here…” the red showing up on his face….and hers….”I mean… at Versailles”. There was no way out. When Oscar decided to take it in this direction, it always ended up in a disaster. Ever since he could remember, since childhood. She loved to torture him that way. He gave in to the game, then, usually, he had to endure a strong defeat.

“So she is not interested…” she said with a serious look on her face. “Are you sure?”

He was overwhelmed. Where was she going with all this?

“Are you sure?” she insisted.

“Well, as far as I know, quite sure…”

“But have you told her at least?” she must be thinking of him as a pityful case, beyond hope….or, perhaps, she thought of him as a punch bag…

“Yes..” he said, timidly.

“More than once?” she asked.

Oh my God… this is getting more complicated… “That’s right…” he was trying to avoid the issue.

“Exactly how many times have you told her?”

Johannis de Turre Cremata… who was that in comparison? “If I remember well… let’s see…”

“Come on!” He couldn’t get away. “Uhmmm….twice in an unequivocal manner, then other times…were more tentative, let’s say….some other times…” he gave up.

She went red, then, with her natural scepticism, together with her extreme clumsiness when it came to such matters – or perhaps she did not have experience with handling these issues? Lead her to utter “It must be an obsession with you…” “Does it happen with all the girls?” Bitch…

“No, only with one…” he corrected her, now beyond hope…

But she did not want to give up on the fun she was having. “Oh, you loser! So you ask a girl to be with you in a tentative way just to see how it goes!” she sounded outraged.

“No! I was in love with her and still am! Only with one person!” there he was! She had provoked him and, finally, he said it! What about all the good intentions he had of leaving her alone?! Well, he really let himself being dragged into it by the hari….how stupid…

“I need to talk to her to tell her what an idiot she is to refuse you!” Oscar finally concluded, as a surprise treat.

André burst out laughing, bent double “No, no…for heaven’s sake, Oscar…leave that alone….I’ll handle that…” So she had decided to stop, ending the game as a draw….thank goodness….His Oscar. But this called for revenge! He knew how to embarrass her too:

“Listen here…”, he stressed, moving his face closer to hers and shaking his index finger, “you have affirmed to me that you would have liked to do it with the person with whom you were in love…” A moment of silence to let this sink in and drive home…”So? I got you too! Even you have someone in mind!” he exclaimed triumphantly! Oh my, he was running the risk of really sliding in his own dirt – perhaps he would discover that, after her interest in Fersen, she really liked somebody else (that wasn’t himself), but the desire to give that impertinent woman a lesson and the opportunity to distract her and play a few more games was too strong…

“But why do we need to talk about these things?” Oscar said, pouting.

“I told you my business….now it’s your turn! If you refuse, you are not being fair!” logical enough, isn’t it?

“It’s true that you have told me about yourself… but you have been overbearing… as usual!” she objected.

“No, Oscar! You are the one who does not want to understand!” this time she asked for it. André had spoken in a very serious manner. “Then what do you mean by ‘as usual’? It does not seem to me that this is a regular topic of conversation for us!”

“Well,” she said, with the air of someone who has just avoided a blow to the head, “a couple of times or maybe more, perhaps yes…” she had sunk his ship! Then while he was feeling overtaken and complaining for it, she decided to give in and continue the game, as if nothing had happened. “Alright…” she said resignedly, “what do you want to know?” she played for time.

“It’s easy: who is he, what’s his name, what are his references, his intentions. If I have to hand you over to him I need to at least verify what kind of a person he is!” he joked, but then not quite so much…

This time it was Oscar who had an unfathomable look on her face![1] “But…but you…don’t have any right at all!!!” She was trying to get out of it, sensing the danger – instead she was heading at great speed towards a sea of trouble.

“As a matter of fact I do! I care for you, I am your friend, not to say your servant… in order of importance… aren’t these reasons good enough?” the guy was an expert player at risk, or rather, he was ready to hit the ball.

I care for you… Oscar heard those words as though they were an echo, amplified within her, but she decided, one more time, not to give much heed to them – at least during this paring game.

“You are not my father, and in any case I am (almost) of legal age!”[2]

“You are right as far as that is concerned”, he conceded…”as a matter of fact I was not a precocious child… and, on the other hand, you are at an age that is pretty….uhmm….well…..advanced! In any case, at this point, I would imagine that we have to rethink our calculations!” and with this he got himself an honest to God cushion-beating – he could not figure out whether it was for the allusion to age or for the matter of the calculations. Another hit on the head. He knew that for whatever reason this was it was evenly distributed over the two hits. “Alright…alright… I apologize… for whatever offence I have given the lady…”[3] he gave in, hugging the cushions and hiding behind them. “Now, though, it’s time for you to confess!”

Oscar, extremely offended, turned her head away to the other side, and pouted. Only because the other women, at her age, had already settled down! She did not show her (insignificant) age anyway and she did not even feel old! She was a young woman, like hell she was! A little beaten up…she had been fixed up real badly.

“Anyway nobody will want me now, after what happened….well, after all, it was the same before…”

The triumphant way in which André interjected with “Less bothersome people around…” earned him a ferocious look from Oscar. Then he decided to get serious again, or, rather, to restart in a serious manner, as he had been serious even before. “If that someone loves you, he will understand what happened to you…” he said. “Otherwise it would mean that he doesn’t deserve you…”

“It’s not so easy…the problem is mine too…”

He sat in silence. He did not want to break the flow of her thoughts.

“I cannot stop thinking about it…I still feel him on top of me… I am afraid that I would feel as if I am reliving the same situation…”

“I see…” One long pause.”This could happen, but not necessarily. I think that it’s important to let some time pass, even physically…”

“I don’t know…I wish that this never happened…I want to forget the whole thing…but I can’t…”

Of course, even the fact that she was full of bruises and wounds, the pain itself…was not helping…

“Perhaps when you are physically better, it will be easier…”

“As a matter of fact, right now I’m a wreck!” she joked.

He immediately took the chance “Well, it’s not exactly what I had said, but…yes…I have to admit that the concept…”

“You bastard!!” and the wreck emerged from her hiding place of quilts and sheets and made for his throat.

“You are not in such bad shape I see!” he observed, extricating himself from Oscar’s hair and the mound of sheets and qjuilts that she had dragged with her while she assaulted him.

“Ohh…Shut up! I hurt all over…ahh…” she wailed, pulling herself up again. Her face was drawn from the pain.

He looked, in a perplexed way, at all the stuff she was accumulating and carrying around with her… “But what are you doing with all that stuff around you?”

“It is all things to console me.” she explained, in brief, absolutely serious about it.

“Am I not enough?” André said, disappointed.

“You are not soft and you don’t keep me warm.” Was the logical explanation.

“Only because you don’t let me do that for you!” was the obvious (predictable) response.

“And after all”, Oscar added, taking out a book from under the covers, “I cannot read you!”

“You can read into my heart!” Pathetic.

“André’, I like to read different things…:

André gave up, and put his arm on his brow… The diversion had worked well on him, so Oscar could recover the cushions which he had taken possession of after the double assault on his body – which cushions were part of her improvised “survival gear”, so to speak, on her bed.

“Anyway, you have never told me who you like…” he complained.

“He’s very sweet, or rather…he is a very handsome young man, he’s a little older than me, and he lives here in Versailles”, Oscar declared, amusingly. “Is that enough?”

“No, I want the name!”

“Excuse me, but you haven’t given me her name either…”

“Well, you don’t have to entrust ME to her, the same way as I would have to do with him…”


“No! The name!”

“At most I will give you the initial…”

“I give up…”

“It starts with…”

And at that moment Nanny came through the door, followed by a maid, with her dinner – and she was surprised to see the bed all crumpled up, the two of them almost entwined, with a strong conspiratorial air all around them.

“You wretched good for nothing! You make an old woman go up all these stairs…” his grandmother chided him.

Without decomposing himself, he simply objected “Quite frankly I was keeping company to a wreck…”

To be Continued...


Mail to  laura_chan55@hotmail.com

Translation: Natalie Guillaumier Mail to natguill@hotmail.com

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[1] Like Falco in City Hunter – turns red and is about to explode.

[2] The legal age and, therefore, emancipation, were reached at the age of 25.

[3] I have already heard this somewhere…J