December 17, 2009
“You will be hung the day after tomorrow.” His magistrate’s words rang in Belle’s ears. The blood drained from her already pale face. No, it couldn’t be. She had done nothing wrong. Nothing. Her battered body still hurt from the torture. Belle’s mind raced and whirled as consciousness seeped from her body. It wasn’t fair. They tortured her into saying what they want to hear… Then her eyesight went black.
When Belle woke again, the executioner was readying the rope for the next day. Tomorrow, she was to be hanged.
In defeat, Belle slumped against the cold cell she was locked in. Her fate leered at her and jeered at her state. She forced the thought away from her tired mind and counted the minutes to her death.
The next morning, two burly men unlocked the door, and in a quick flash, Belle was out, dashing for the cathedral, Notre Dame. She ran through the crowd easily, her small body quick, and her sea green skirt swirling around her pounding bare feet.
The men were bigger, thus having a harder time making their way through the immense crowd.
Her heart beating like death drums, Belle pounded the heavy wood doors of the cathedral. “Sanctuary! I beg sanctuary!” she screamed at the top her lungs. As she saw the men come closer, her knocking became faster, more frantic.
Finally, the old archdeacon opened the door, and ushered her inside. When the burly men had reached Belle, the archdeacon was standing boldly in front of her, daring the men to break the promise of sanctuary. They did not.
As they left grudgingly, Belle crumpled to the floor and cried as she praised God. Throughout the day, she was fed by the archdeacon and wandered around the great cathedral. For the night, she was given a bed. When she lay in bed, the last light of her candle reflected a gold light off her gold band around her wrist. The gold band held a single bead of sea green, like her dress.
Her last thoughts as sleep overcame her were of her childhood; of when her mother died and her father killed, and of when her brother had been sold. Her dancing alone in the cold cobble streets to make money to live… Then, she was asleep.
The next morning, the archdeacon brought rags and medicine for her wounds, after dressing them, she was off to explore. She was wandering the gardens, while smelling a rose, when a deep voice called out, “Hey! You there!”
Belle whirled around only to be face-to-face with a guard. “Hello, what might you be doing this fine evening, mademoiselle?” “Oh, I was just admiring these roses, Monsieur.” “Yes, they are beautiful at this time of year,” commented the handsome guard.
He turned his head toward her and she saw kind brown eyes regarding her in a friendly matter. His brown locks shined in the sunny morning light, his face looking happy and content.
“He cocked his head toward the cathedral building as he asked, “And what are you doing in our grand Lady?”
“Oh, well, I escaped and sought sanctuary here.”
“Whatever for, mademoiselle?”
“My name is Belle, by the by. Anyway, I was to be hanged… for making money on the streets,” she spat the last few words.
“Ah. Forgive me, Belle. My name is Beauregard. Well, have you been to court? I see. Well, yes, I heard the king does unjustly sentence people.” He whispered the last sentence.
“Yes, so I’ve decided to run away.”
“But it is so dangerous!” Beauregard exclaimed.
“I will hide and travel on my remaining money. Sir, I assure you, I will be fine.”
“No! Let me come with you! I’ve wanted to escape France and see the world anyway.”
“I believe, monsieur, I cannot let you come with me.”
“I shall be accompanying you, mademoiselle.”
“I am not in need of accompaniment.”
“It does not matter,” the guard said off-handedly, “I will alert the others if you do not let me go with you.”
“Blackmail…” hissed Belle.
With a chuckle, Beauregard said, “Ah, well, ‘tis the price you must pay for your journey. Maybe, I will be of use as we travel.” Belle glowered up at the tall guard and huffed off. It was becoming dark anyway, and she needed to change her bandages.
Belle woke to the pigeons’ chirping and cooing as they fluttered around the stone gargoyles. The archdeacon came in soon after that, with urgent news.
“The King Magistrate will over-ride your sanctuary and will come tomorrow afternoon to hang you!”
“Thank you for your kindness and generosity, my dear archdeacon,” said Belle, “But I believe I must be off now. I will be fine, I promise you. I must run now if I am to have a running-start.”
With that, she ran out to the gardens past all the other guards whispering and chuckling. One guard next to Beauregard commented, “Isn’t that the beggar you were talking to yesterday, Beau?” “Yes, it was, George. But, no, she is NOT a beggar. Now, if you will excuse me.” Then, hopping off the low wall he had been sitting on, he ran to meet Belle.
“Oh, Beauregard! I’ve heard the most awful news! The King will over-ride my sanctuary!”
Beauregard held her in his arms, saying, “Can he really do that?!”
“Oh, yes! Yes, he can!”
“Well, then, we must be off, my dear Belle.”
“Wait for me to gather my belongings.”
And in a few minutes, they were off, Belle’s things in her green shawl, slung over Beauregard’s shoulder. Into the heart of France they travelled. Their first stop would be at Valois-Orleans, following the Seine River. After that they would stop in Duche de Nemours, then Duche on the border between Duche de Lorraine and France. Making a quick stock-up stop at Comte de Bourgogne, they would continue into Italy, their final destination to hide in Venice, the city on water.

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HCReingold said...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm
This is really enchanting
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