Translation: Natalie Guillaumier
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scene takes off from the episode of the Black Knight as told
in Marina MAGLIAVACCA (by contribution of), Il
Romanzo di Lady Oscar, Milan, Fabbri, 1982, pp. 168. The location of André's
room has been changed due to an obsession of the Author * grin *.
One assumes that André had already tried to express his feelings for
had run out of medication and Oscar had managed to come into André’s room.
The doctor was cleaning his instruments and the governess was fussing over her
nephew. The had had to take off his bloody clothes, wash him and change him.
André was lying still in the bed, his eyes both bandaged – and through which,
from the left side, she could see the gauze used for medication. He was pale.
a bad wound.” the doctor had said. “He has lost his left eye.”
was upset beyond words.
very painful for him” the doctor went on, “he might not even be able to get
on his feet for a few days…he has to stay still as long as possible, bandaged
and in the dark at least for a month and his wound must be cleaned because of
the risk of infections – also to prevent the damage from extending to the
other eye…he might become blind with the passing of time, even though, for now
at least, his right eye is safe.” The doctor then had left, followed by the
she had whispered. “No…” Oscar had let herself go and was crying
desperately, trying to crush the pain - her head was leaning against the wall,
which she was hitting with her hands clenched in a fist. “André…” She
fell to her knees, her hair hiding her face. “André…” This was a horrible
situation. The only good thing was that she shad thought he had lost his
eyesight completely, while, in fact, it was only a temporary shock, due to the
extreme blow he had received. At least the right eye was saved.
felt dizzy; her ears were ringing in her head, and everything was like a blur.
It had really happened. All that had happened was coming back to her – she
could see it and hear it all over again. The real Black Knight had been waiting
for them, right at the border of the Jarjayes property, and aimed his attack at
André. Right there and then, even she could not distinguish them properly,
because they looked so much the same. Right now, though, everything was much
clearer in her head. André had not at any time been the aggressor. He was only
defending himself. Then came the blow - a determined upward swish of the sword.
There was a long moment of silence. Oscar knew it was him, but she couldn’t
believe it. Then she had heard his voice. Beautiful, reeking with pain. “My
eye…” he cried, his word muffled with the pain, “My eye…” and he fell
to the ground while the other man made his escape.
André!” Oscar knelt by his side. “What did he do to you? What did he do to
you?” Her voice was broken with the intensity of her despair. She tried to
keep him sitting upright, and she held his hand. She had stifled a cry of horror
when she managed to take a look at his face.
holding a bloody hand to his eye. He was staring at her without seeing her
“Oscar help me… I can’t see… I can’t see any more…”
frozen all over. “André!” This couldn’t be. This couldn’t be true. Only
incredulity could force itself through to her. “Calm down… we are home now….
we will call the doctor”, she had told him, while he was leaning against her,
his strength draining away from his body.
feeling faint and he couldn’t stand on his feet. She had tried to hold him, to
give him strength, dragging him right up to the stairs in the hall. Then she
couldn’t take the weight any more. She let him slide to the floor, holding him
as best she could.
a doctor! Quick! Jesus Christ! Call a doctor!”
desperate - at the end of her tether. People started coming to the rescue.
holding his head in her lap, trying to stop the flow of the blood, caressing his
red all over – the blood had seeped through both their clothes. The governess
was now at their side, forced to see her nephew in that condition.
Mademoiselle Oscar, what happened?” She had almost fainted.
had pulled him up. While in his room, his grandmother took his clothes off,
washed away the blood from his face and body. André winced from the pain with
every movement. He was in too much pain. Oscar had helped her, keeping him
upright. The governess had told her to go out of the room, but she did not move.
She could not send her away if she tried. Even though there were maids that
could have helped Nanny. Even when the doctor arrived and started cleaning his
wound, she had stayed there right by his side. She was determined not to leave
him alone. After a while they had to make her leave – and she felt as if she
had lost a battle. She could hear the voices of the doctor and the grandmother
from outside, but she never heard even the slightest cry from André.
was by his side. It was André who was now lying wounded. And she felt the pain
inside. It was unbearable and she wanted to scream. She didn’t know what to
do. Something was blocking her. Her instinct would have made her get closer so
she could take his hand in hers and pass her fingers through his hair, caress
his face. Some kind of feeling of prudishness was stopping her from doing that…even
after what had happened. There was still that distance between them which had
only vanished for that brief instant between the entrance to the house and the
hall, because of the shock that had overtaken her.
what about him? Wasn’t he in need of some warmth and comfort? She gazed at him,
and surprised herself looking at him in that way…at such a moment…why could
she not take her eyes off of him? She felt her heart in her stomach and then she
heard it pounding maddeningly in her chest. Her whole body, including her hands,
were freezing all over. Why was she thinking about him in that way? She liked
him. A lot. His black curly hair; his tender green eyes which looked straight
into hers, without embarrassment – making her blush – and which eyes had
taught her the meaning of trust and dependability; his hands, strong and tied
into each other…elegant, incredibly beautiful – hands which made her feel
faint whenever they touched her; his voice, sweet and warm, ironic and
was here. Oscar felt her heart freezing over in the biting night cold. After a
while she could not take it any more and the tears streamed down her cheeks.
While she covered her face with her hands, she slid slowly to her knees by the
bed, choking with tears, trying hard not to be heard… it was a deaf kind of
pain, which made her feel incredibly desperate.
felt like shouting out…instead she could only ask herself “Why? Why?”,
incredulous when faced with the reality of events; she begged “Oh God, no! No!
No!”, while violently tugging at her hair.
she calmed down. She lifted her face and brought it close to André's hand. She
held his hand in hers, while staying there, on her knees by the bed, for a long
time. She did not dare move, for she was afraid of ruining the magic of that
governess found her there, and put a shawl around her, with tenderness. Then
Oscar got up. The magic was broken. She was ashamed of her tears and was
concerned she had been seen, her broken voice heard.
you not going to bed?” asked the grandmother.
I am staying here.” She did not want to leave him alone that night; she did
not want to be away from him any more. She wanted to be close to him, more than
she had ever been until now.
down by his side, letting herself go on the chair by the bed, and her heart was
heavy with the rubble and the cold and the pain she felt inside.
room….so different from her own…the attic was dark and cold. There were no
drapes, so one could see the reflection of a dark night sky – it seemed like
shiny black velvet – with bright stars all across. It was biting cold. He
needed to rest, even aside from the fact that – and she smiled at the thought
– that André loved his sleep. He had suffered a lot during the medication…
was there. It was one of those
nights where one could hear one’s voice in one head strongly resounding, and
one’s thoughts are clear and unambiguous, free of any doubt. It was one of
those nights when you finally want to say a thousand words, but the silence is
to overbearing and envelopes you, while you hear the sound of your voice
silently telling you the truth. Oscar
would have wanted to tell him that she was sorry…No! That she loved him, that
she cared for him, so much! She had to tell him! She needed to speak and could
not keep silent any longer! This was not right, even for him. She lowered her
head. Perhaps he still cared for her. After all, he had kept showing his
interest in her, a thousand times, with a thousand gestures, a thousand looks
and the warm tone of his voice…”What a chicken you are”, she told herself,
“you always have to be sure…”. She smiled. Those were thoughts that come
in the night, when everything seems more intense, those thoughts that capture
your heart and squeeze it till you hurt…. But what about tomorrow? What would
she have not only done, but also thought, the following day? Would she still
have wanted to take him into her arms and whisper sweet nothings in his ear? Yes,
she was sure of that. At worst she would not have done it. Not yet. But without
a doubt she would still have those thoughts. That had been a painful lesson. A
painfully effective one – but it’s terrible when one learns from the
suffering of others. She never wanted to make that mistake again with André. She
never wanted to do it again. Time would have to pass for one to learn and show
one’s feelings, for her to show him her feelings, but she never wanted to risk
losing André again.
stayed there all night.
dawn and it was freezing. From the light that seeped through the window, Oscar
could see the form of André's body. His head was prostrate on the pillow, while
the sky outside was a milky colour.
lost in a deep sleep, but he had been sick numerous times – he would moan and
hold his ice cold hand in Oscar’s, in a tight grip. He must have had a high
fever. Oscar had helped him drink, pulling his head up from the pillow and
holding the glass to his lips.
looked at him – then she closed her eyes and let herself go, overcome with
exhaustion. She tried to relax,
ease the stiffness in her muscles and release the tension. She slept for a while,
but every thought produced a searing pain in her heart. What would they have
said to each other, she and André? What words would they say? How would it have
been from now on between them?
woke up. He felt a presence by his side.
you…”, he said, trying, by moving the hand that Oscar was holding, to trace
the lines of her face. She felt a tearing in her heart.
you alright?” he asked her incredibly.
shook her head, while the tears started to fall down her cheeks once again. She
retook his hand in hers. “How are you feeling?”, she said with a sad, broken
the situation could even be desirable in some respects…” he joked, his voice
muted, while she squeezed his hand even harder.
felt weak and speechless, her hand was limp in his and she felt heat surging
through her because of that touch.
became serious: “Has the doctor told you…”. He spoke with difficulty,
whilst holding his breath.
himself go on the pillow. He felt weak. He still had a fever and his wound was
still giving him much pain. “I will be out of order for a while…”.
now you must only think about resting” Oscar’s voice was warm and sweet.
“I want to have you with me again as soon as possible.” She tightened her
grip on his hand.
first days were hard. The doctor came often to administer his medication. Each
time he checked the wound and the state of the right eye, for which, the only
cure he could think of as far as André blindness was concerned was to avoid the
possibility of total rather than partial blindness. He had advised rest in bed,
as much as that was possible, for at least the first few days. André had a high
fever. After all, he was hardly
able to move in that condition. The pain in his eye was unbearable to say the
least. At times the pain spread all over his face and he was suffering from some
atrocious headaches. Sometimes, though, he was calm. He looked resigned. It
almost seemed as if what was happening had nothing to do with him. Sometimes the
darkness scared him and he felt himself suffocate. How he wished to tear off
was very much close to him. He was conscious of that, but he had no strength
left in him. However her presence did have a calming effect on him. He felt
better when she was next to him. Oscar tried to spend as much time as she
possibly could with him. Some days, when the situation seemed most critical, she
stayed at home, feigning a malady, while, in reality, she was spending that time
by his bed. Her father had complained about her absence at the Court, but she
stood her ground. It was not only the fact that she wanted to stay close to André.
There was also the fact that she feared facing Versailles without him, because
he had always managed to take away that burden from her heart. “I will never
set foot in a place like that” she had said, when she was fourteen years old.
Then things had changed, she had adapted to the situation – which she found
bearable with André's support and presence. It was absolutely true though that
she preferred to be with him. André could hardly notice that, what with the
pain and the fever. When he was half conscious he perceived her presence, but he
was in too bad a condition to go beyond that.
started to become more conscious only after four, five days. So Oscar found him
sitting upright on the bed, his back propped up with various pillows. He was
pale, had grown thinner and he was riddled in pain. It was cold. Grandma came in
with the tools for shaving on a tray, which she placed on a table totally
covered in books. Oscar threw a glance at the table and her heart felt all torn
can shave now…”
had not noticed that André had not shaved for several days.
help you out, come on…” said Grandma, getting closer to him.
alright, Grandma. I can do it,” jumped in Oscar, almost stupefied for having
interfered in something so personal.
André quickly replied, taking her up on her offer. “Oscar is definitely more
of an expert than you in these men’s things!”
turned towards him belligerently.
leaving then…” Grandma left and Oscar leapt at André, ready to start a
fight. However he knew what she was about to do and he blocked her by the wrists,
before she had time to get all over him. Oscar felt that strange sensation of
the cold touch on her warm skin. His hands were positively freezing. His grip
was weak. He must still have fever. He caught herself at a few centimeters from
his face. André felt her gaze on him.
did you manage to know what I was doing?” She was surprised.
noises, the movement of the air…” André explained.
mistaken or are you disappointed?”
I’m surprised…” She looked at him. “You don’t look bad unshaven…”
she dared to say, nonchalantly.
was taken by surprise. “Oh…but…” he mumbled, “fact is that it bothers
was surprised. She never thought that men could have such a problem. The first
time André had shaved he must have just turned fourteen, and she remembered
clearly that it had had a strange effect on her, because after that moment he
had seemed more grown up.
if you prefer it like this, as soon as I feel better, I will let it grow…”
went red to her ears. He meant that...but no, it couldn't be....Oh Lord! Better
not think about that!
agitated her hands and cried “No! No!”
smiled, satisfied for having provoked such embarrassment.
on now…” Oscar helped him get up and sit at the table, which was right in
front of the bed. He was still in pain and still needed support in order to move.
for the objects on the tray. Oscar put the blade in his hand, and placed the
bowl in front of him. After making him touch it so he could know it was there,
she poured hot water in it.
you…” André was embarrassed.
on the other hand, felt a surge of
tenderness in her heart, while she watched him. And what if the wound worsened
and the consequences became horrible? No, it couldn’t be. Why make the
sacrifice of staying in the dark for so long, otherwise? She observed him while
he clumsily moved his blade around. She was said and full of anger. And in the
meantime, she couldn’t help thinking how intimate it felt to watch a man while
he was shaving. She a multitude of sensations welling inside her… She would
have wanted to turn her face away, but she could not make herself look away.
What a handsome chin…
I’ll help you…” She said impulsively. “Tell me what I need to do.” She
sat beside him. “Come here…”
was rather surprised. But the stubble on his face was really irritating him and
he had almost mangled himself while trying to do it alone. He was resigned.
the blade in this position, then slide it over my skin.”
tried to do as he said, at first hesitant and afraid of hurting him. Then,
little by little, she felt more secure with the blade in her hand, while with
her other hand she held his face firm. André was holding his breath, not sure
of her movements.
I can see you’re an ace at this!” he joked, when she finished her first
it could have been worse…” she readily replied.
rinse the blade and shave in the other direction.”
was a knock on the door. One of the maids, Alexandra, came in.
then she stopped herself. “Oh, Mademoiselle Oscar…” She had not expected
to find herself looking at such a scene. “I will come back later…”
noticed that she looked disappointed and she felt a surge of jealousy that made
her skin stand on end. And what would that be? She just burst in through the
door without waiting for an answer and she was surprised to find her there. But
what the hell did she have in mind?
noticed that something wasn’t right with Oscar. Her hand had become cold and
tense on his face. The other hand, which, quite frankly, he was more worried
about, was holding a sharp blade in it. Oscar kept on brooding. She was a pretty
girl, hazel eyes, light brown hair, very long hair. Quite certainly in her
maid’s uniform she looked more attractive than her, with her loose shirt and
dark vest. She was younger than her, she thought, furiously.
I’m an ace with pistols…” she coldly resumed the discussion in her brain.
“I am an excellent shot.”
It’s your life, it seems to me.”
you know that I’m not interested in her…”
know perfectly well that you are free to have relations as you damn well please!”
She placed the blade on the table because her hand was shaking. She got up and
moved away. She was furious. Better detach herself before she started speaking
too much and too carelessly.
tried to stop her “Oscar! Wait! Please…”, but not being able to see around
him, and not being used to, nor having the time to feel around him, he tripped
on the chairs and fell to the ground. It was painful. He could not figure out
where he was. He was lost.
realized that she had gone too far. And, more importantly, her heart could not
bear to see him like that.
you hurt?” she asked him sadly, kneeling beside him.
He was confused and full of embarrassment in being faced with his own weakness.
helped him get back up. Then, without a word, and still furious, she left the
not go back for hours after that.
certainly won’t miss somebody’s company!” she thought, blind with rage,
while she urged her horse to gallop faster.
rode for hours. She wished she could have an empty head and a heart of stone.
But instead she kept thinking of that scene and feeling terribly bad. Because of
what she had seen. And because of how she had behaved. She had acted too
impulsively. She felt wounded.
as if something between them was broken. As if something outside of them had
shown her that the complete, mutual trust they had shared (at least that’s
what she had thought until now) could not have been real. She felt as if the
André she knew was only a part of that youth who, after all, had another life
of his own to live. She could not accept that! Not even the possibility of it!
as if something had shown her the sad, abnormal condition she was in.
Just the doubt that he might have had a relationship with that girl had
completely stripped her of the last shred of self-esteem she had as a woman,
after her father had so accurately worked on the rest with her upbringing.
The very prospect that André, the person who had always been by her
side, or even worse – the person who had told her that he loved her – could
even remotely be thinking about another woman, hurt her immensely. On the other
hand, she could not expect to isolate him from everyone. André was 32 years
old. How could she expect that… However, the idea that he might have a woman
simply broke her heart. She felt horrible. Deep inside she hoped that it wasn’t
true. A little voice inside her told her it wasn’t possible. However…
let all her feelings out and now she felt cold and hungry. This brought her back
to reality. She felt stupid. Incredibly stupid for the suspicions she had
entertained in her mind. For the trust she had lacked in him. Is it possible
that a tiny nagging doubt could be more important than all that had happened
between them since they had known each other? She had treated him like dirt. And
he was wounded and in pain. How could she have been so cruel?
felt terribly bad about what had happened. He had patiently tried to clear the
table. Then he sat on the bed, feeling beyond hope, and surprised at the turn of
events. Of course, he knew how impulsive Oscar was. But it really wasn’t his
fault. He did not care anything about that girl. He had not even thought that
she might be interested in him. He could not understand why Oscar had made such
a big deal out of it. Was she jealous? No… he smiled. This just wasn’t
possible… He ran one hand over his jaw, where Oscar had held him a while ago.
He tried to remember the feeling of her touch. But he stopped in horror when the
only image he could evoke was one of a belligerent, furious Oscar. How silly…
wasn’t feeling well. He was cold and the pain in his eye wore him out. This
problem took priority for him right now. He loved Oscar with all his heart.
Helplessly. But this was a growing problem at the moment. He let himself go on
the pillows. Fever. Pain. Thoughts. Clear thoughts – at least they had been
never thought about the other women. He
had never been interested. How could Oscar have thought that he could ever
betray his love for her? That he could have cared about a passing fling…a mere
sexual thing, more than he cared about her? What an absurd idea…
thoughts were breaking up and made no sense any more. Sex… Yes, he wanted
Oscar. Without a shred of doubt he wanted her badly. He thought she was to die
for. He was in love with her. But sex and love had so become one thing for him
that he could not separate the two – and he would have gladly remained a
virgin (at least deliberately) all his life…a way of life that, after all,
till that moment he had adhered to. He was sure of wanting that, just so he
could wait for her. It was funny… He blushed when he thought about what
Oscar’s expression would be if she could know about his thoughts and ideas.
tired. So he went to sleep.
To Be Continued...
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