Interrupted Plans

March 30, 2011
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It is the year 1789 and France is going through a revolution. The Third Estate, mainly the bourgeoisie are reading the works of Enlightenment authors or learning about them and revolting. In light of this chaos, the National Assembly, a group of representatives from the Third Estate, is convening in order to gain better rights. In an attempt to stop them from meeting, King Louis XVI locked the doors to their meeting hall, forcing the National Assembly to reconvene elsewhere.
Interrupted Plans
“Antoine! Hey Antoine! Over here!” The brown-haired boy looked away from the display of baguettes in the bakery window and spotted his best friend waving hysterically as he ran towards him.
“Antoine, I thought you had forgotten! I thought I’d have to go to the match all alone with him. You wouldn’t do that to me would you? You wouldn’t make me-”
“Jean Claude.”
“And he’d spend the entire time discussing the ‘fascinating pattern in the Generals of Finances’. You know he would-”
“Jean Claude.”
“I can’t keep up with conversations like that! That’s what you’re for-Mmph!”
Antoine glared at his friend, keeping his hand firmly clamped over his mouth. “As I was attempting to say, I would not miss this event easily. It’s not every day that I get to watch Rene Broussard play, as well as have a decent conversation with an educated man.”
Jean Claude pulled his hand away and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. You’ll get your decent conversation soon enough, let’s just get to the match. Father’s waiting for us.”
The two teens hurried down the road, pausing occasionally to point at something in a shop window or greet a common face. Their path began to broaden and Antoine looked at Jean Claude, who was walking several paces ahead. “Hey, Jean. What were you talking about when you mentioned the ‘fascinating pattern in the Generals of Finances’? I know that the General has been replaced several times but I haven’t heard anything about a pattern.”
Jean Claude pulled a face. “Oh, you know father. He’s convinced that there’s some kind of special reasoning for each different general. You heard about Charles de Calonne being replaced right?”
“And then how Etienne de Lomenie de Brienne, his replacement, was replaced by-by . . .”
“Jacques Necker?” offered Antoine helpfully.
“Yes, him. Well, as I said before, father thinks these men are being chosen to make a pattern.” Jean Claude finished with another eye-roll. Antoine continued to stay silent, causing Jean Claude to hop back to where his friend was standing and stare at him. “You disagree with him, don’t you?” asked Jean Claude.
This seemed to snap Antoine out of his thoughts. “No. That’s not it. I was just thinking about the idea. It’s very interesting.”
“Sure.” Jean Claude did not sound very convinced. The two of them continued up the hill until they reached the top of it. There they stopped to take in the sight that was sprawled out below them in an organized layout of carved stone and sunny grass.
“Ah,” hummed Antoine. “Is it not beautiful?”
For once Jean Claude seemed to seriously appreciate the topic of the conversation. “Yes indeed,” he replied. “I would like to see something more amazing than the Royal Jeu de Court Paume Building of Versailles.” The boy paused a bit longer to look at the building before elbowing his still-staring friend in the ribs. “Come on Antoine. Let’s race!” He took off running.
“Why you-” Antoine quickly raced down the hill after him. “When I catch up-”
“Oh, but you won’t catch up.”
They raced into the building, past the doors, past the yelling guards, past the doors leading to the ornamental gardens. Finally they burst into the large court room, its huge windows shedding light onto the people in it.
“Hah,” panted Jean Claude. “Told you -huh- you wouldn’t -huh- catch –huh- up –huh.”
“Be quiet,” gasped Antoine. The recovering duo did not feel the presence of a third person until the man grasped Antoine’s shoulder with a heavy hand and boomed:
“Antoine, m’ dear boy! How fare you on this fine summer’s day?”
Antoine started at the sudden intrusion, then quickly calmed when he recognized Jean Claude’s father. “Hello to you too, Monsieur Lévesque. I am doing very well, thank you for asking.”
The heavy set man chuckled jovially at reply. “You flatter me, m’boy.” Then, using the hand on his shoulder, he began to steer Antoine away from the door. “Listen, m’boy. I’m not sure Jean told you this, but I have a new theory. Very ingenious if I may say so myself. But before I get to that, I must ask: have you read the book written by Abbe Sieyes?”
“You mean What is the Third Estate? I ha-”
“Wonderful!” crowed Jean Claude’s father. “Now I wanted your opinion on the way that Sieyes phrases his words. Do you think that he is implying that the government is incompetent not to include the third estate? Or maybe he could. . .” the man pulled Antoine along as he dived into the analysis of the book. J
ean Claude, who was now standing alone at the doorway, threw his hands up in the air. “Oh sure! Forget about me! Just go off on your own. See if I care!”

Antoine was enjoying his discussion with Jean Claude’s father. He had been speaking the truth when he stated that he did not get the chance to talk to an educated man every day. However, Antoine’s conversation was halted prematurely by the sound of yells coming from the hall outside. A medley of voices echoed off the stone walls, growing steadily nearer.
“An outrage!”
“The nerve of that man!”
“How dare he!”
The partially closed door to the court flew open with a bang and a crowd of angry men poured into the room, completely disregarding the gaping spectators. The men milled around in the center of the room, shouting angrily and making loud exclamations.
“We’ve been in a financial crisis for two years already, and he expects us to just-”
“Not to mention the further failures in crop this year!”
Antoine watched in amazement as anarchy reined over the group. From his side, Jean Claude’s father was also observing the goings on with interest. They remained silent and watched as one gray-haired man finally mounted a small table meant for scoring purposes.
“Silence!” he roared. Slowly, the men around him fell quiet. The gray-haired man continued. “I know you are angry,” he started. Several others yelled out in agreement before being silenced by the man’s harsh glare. “But we agreed to meet so we could carry out one purpose: to make a constitution that is approved!” Another cacophony of shouts answered this statement.
Antoine jerked slightly as Jean Claude pushed his way through the watchers and to his side. “What is going on?” hissed Jean Claude. “What are these people doing?”
He was answered as the grey-haired man yelled again. “The king can take our rights and our meeting rooms, but he cannot take our ideas! I propose that we do not leave this room until a constitution has been approved!” The others shouted their approval and the grey-haired man stepped of the table to talk with the men.
Antoine watched in understanding as he answered his friend, “They’re changing a nation.”

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