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I write this in confidence to whoever it is who reads this (whether you're a royalist or republican) that events like those I'm about to describe are immortalized forever.
The year 1789 was a boiling fever, drenched in a freezing sweat. It was an epidemic, claiming anyone with enough will and bravery for itself. No one recooperated from this particular type of influenza. Those untouched by it were sent to the medical practice of Madame la Guillotine, who operated under the order of young La Republique. Many may tell you that Madame la Guillotine was a crazed, evil, sadistic murderess, but do the fallen and defeated write history?
One of the first to catch the 1789 fever began with the son of Comte de Vaubernier, Alain de Vaubernier.
Alain de Vaubernier would never have struck you as a Comte’s heir, not as a Bourbon’s heir, not even a bourgeois’s heir. His hair was midnight, unconquerable and black, his eyes were the stars. Sometimes, though, his eyes would flicker and burn out, and all that would remain was the reflection of pain in his heart. Alas, there was no Viscomtess de Vaubernier. All Alain had known was that she was out there somewhere, and he was left abandoned, with an uncaring father.
His story begins on April 23, 1789. The Estates-General were going to convene in two weeks and the viscomte was not happy about it.
“The peasants may be starving, but as long as the important people are kept satisfied, France will be fine.” He huffed, almost incessantly to keep his nerves at bay. Alain was quite contrary to this, in silence.
This was his journal entry on that unseasonably cold spring night:
23rd of April, 1789
Paris has proved to be in economical ruins. Fathers and mothers, alike, are worked until well after one in the morning, without a crumb of bread to show for it. I try my hardest to bring the worst-along families scraps from our table, which has enough food each night to feed the entire Quartier Latin. It’s much more than enough for just Father and me. Anyway, I’m only a fifteen-year-old boy. How can I possibly supply every table of this ravenous city with a loaf of bread? I also fear that servants and maybe Father are growing suspicious of where I am each night, or where all the surplus food goes. Should I be discovered, it would juts get Father another reason closer to disowning me. I must be more discreet, but how? Who can I trust? No one.
On that very night, when Alain had finished this entry, he received a letter, from his father.
That man’s vanity has reached an historical high, Alain thought disgusted. I think even Louis XVI would have enough dignity to face man, not send a letter to a resident of your own house.
Instead of putting the parchment envelope away for later, curiosity getting the better of him, he carefully ripped it open and unfolded the paper inside. Little black fragments of dried ink fluttered into his lap, like snowflakes. Some of the ink had been chipped off, a sign that this letter had been planned to be sent for a long time. There was also a banknote for one hundred francs made out to Alain. The letter read:
You are fifteen now, a full-fledged man. I believe you should know your origins, like anyone else.
Your mother was never the Viscomtess de Vaubernier. In all truth, she is not worthy of such a grand title. All she was, was a mere grisette, looking for a few francs.
As a man, who is now capable of taking care of himself, I must ask you, in the sublime name of de Vaubernier, to leave the shelter of my roof. You knew that this day would come sometime. You should know that as your father, nothing pains me more. As a viscomte, I’m doing what any of my ancestors would have done.
I have arranged for you to stay at the Hotel de la Porte-Saint-Jacques, with the one hundred francs included in this envelope. You shall change your name to Alain Dambray, an orphan without any recollection of his parents or lineage. Please try to forget as much of me as possible. This is all for your own good. Don’t think of this as a disownment, just life.
God be with you,
Comte Michel de Vaubernier
When he had finished reading, Alain slammed the letter down on his desk, laughing like a madman.
“Getting rid of me, is he?” He laughed, though what he saw humorous in this situation, I can’t fathom. “Just so he can breathe easier in his salons, eh?”
Then, as anger and hatred were about to completely take over his mind, he thought back. He thought back to all the times he’d been yelled at by his father, neglected by his father, punished by his father for no substantial reason whatsoever.
“I’ll have my freedom…” He sighed, sinking onto his mattress. “I’ll have myself to answer to…I’ll live!” He held the letter up in triumph.
And the next day, Alain Dambray left his father’s mansion on the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire and set off on every man’s search for his life.