A Courtesan

April 24, 2017

“Miss De Lumiel, Miss De Lumiel you have been staring out that window for near a half hour what could you find so fascinating?” My companion looked up from her embroidery for the fifth time in the last ten or so minutes, I had been ticking away the seconds of blissful silence in my head. Her care and concern due to my entire lack of interest in making conversation after so long a drive would have been admirable if I did not find her exceedingly annoying.
I huffed an unladylike sigh, in truth there was nothing exceptional about the French countryside but it was better than listening to my doddering companion complain about the bumpy ride or how she had yet again pricked her finger on her needle. Believe you me I would have liked nothing more than to turn around and get the growing cramp out of my neck, but then I would have had to face the English simpleton Father had forced upon me last month. He had insisted upon it for my sake,  something about, ‘a lady’s delicate reputation’ and such nonsense as that.
   She was a sweet enough girl of seventeen, blondish hair with blue eyes and rosy cheeks, the picture of English beauty; except for a mole just there under her chin which I never grew tired of pointing out to her. In all truth it is a minor flaw but when one has such little material to work with one must make do. Her delicate mannerisms only enhanced her looks, soft spoken and never to challenge anyone’s opinion or statement, an angel among humans she was often called at social events and parties. It did wonders for my own appearance to be next to her, my already shadowed features looking even sharper and more demonic. Dark eyebrows and a constant downturned mouth enveloped my large wide eyes and button nose, overtaking whatever pretty face I might have and causing me to appear mysterious and jaded. I was a wraith to her angel, and anybody within minutes of meeting us knew it.
    All this beauty went to waste whenever she opened that mouth of hers, despite her supposed ‘soft-spoken’ manners and her own insistence that a Lady must be well versed, spewing mountains of boring gossip and reciting the local paper seemed to be the only topics of conversation she could handle. After two days of this I was ready to throw her out of the carriage myself, voluminous skirts and all.
“Miss De Lumiel?” She repeated, insisting on letting my obvious wishes to be alone fly over her head. If she continued acting dense the entire trip to court I would have to deal with her at some point, I told myself, might as well finish this now instead of enduring any more of her painful attempts at conversation. Out of the corner of my eye I could see she had turned her face to stare at me, still expecting me to answer.  Turning my own head to face her I let the full strength of my annoyance show, eyes narrowed to snake-like glints and a rosebud shaped mouth pulled back in a snarl. I wasn’t sure but I believed I saw her rosy cheeks go white.
“I heard you the first time you idiot, just because my father decided to do your family a favor by making you my companion does not mean we are to speak to one another. I in no way plan to utter another word to you unless it is to tell you that we have arrived. Do I make myself clear?”
  She flinched at my harsh statement, her doe eyes becoming even bigger and her lip quivered in fear, I had to admit, if I had not grown used to this childish behavior weeks ago I may have fallen for it and apologized. Most people did, the slightest backhanded comment immediately taken back as soon as one stared into those broken pools of blue. Now I simply rolled my own eyes and turned back to rest my chin on my hands, staring out at the blurry fields of crops and the occasional orchards we passed whilst trying to ignore the whirling tendril of guilt at having snapped and lost my temper.
  As my eyes wandered the greenery my mind fled back to home. Would Mother be alright left alone with my obnoxious younger brothers, would she miss me as much as I missed her, and would Father even care? The only reason I was even in this carriage was because of him and his scheming. Ever since he had learned of my mother’s childhood friendship with Queen Catherine Medici he had set his sights on moving me to court to further our family, namely himself. If a daughter of his would ever come into favor of the Royal queen, his trade business would flourish and his standing would increase tenfold. I had been next to useless to him at home, scorning marriage and refusing any romantic attention thrown at me, I was the model for any girl hoping to one day become a spinster. Many a day had I made my father so angry he had threatened to send me off to a nunnery where I belonged. From his viewpoint I belonged anywhere but in his line of sight. I had never believed him of course, a young girl with wealth and standing was too valuable a piece in the game of society for him to just throw away into a life of virginity and squaller.
   So I was instead shipped off to be someone else’s problem, my forced companion being my only help until I reached court. Mother and Father had insisted, despite my chagrin, that she come along the way. What this bumbling fool would do to aid my travels I never understood, the only thing she ever aided were my headaches. but; yet I had accepted the English puppy, my mother being the only family member I could not refuse. My only condition for when I did arrive, was that she left with the carriage. I could survive court on my own just fine, I was accustomed to the inner workings of a wealthy society full of intrigue and rumor. Hell, I experienced that just having breakfast with my family. Having to tote an English puppy around with me, all the while making sure she wasn’t carried off by some aristocrat, it would be too much even for myself to handle. And to be associate with an English woman, in royal court of all places, I shuddered at the thought of what they might do to my reputation. England and France were never on good terms, even in times such as these when there was peace and good tidings between the two empires. Our citizens would always be bitter rivals and only the families desperate for money or social status would ever lower themselves to allow one from the opposing country in their company.
  We had left my home yesterday, and we were reaching our third hour today, the French court had moved to Paris for the fall and as such, a journey that usual took a day was now a day and a half travel by carriage. Luckily my Mother had made sure to send my clothing and possessions several days before I had left so I wouldn’t find myself stranded in court in nothing but travel clothing. The idea of such an inconvenience made me shiver and rub my shoulders up and down with gloved hands. I didn’t fear the cold, more the embarrassment of being in public with muddied skirts whilst in the presence of the Queen. 
   “Are you cold Miss?” The simpleton’s memory had a relapse, her voice shattering my solitude yet again. Forcing my shoulders to untense I grunted in response, hopefully she would return to herself and stop bothering me, or at least run out of questions to ask me. Either way I knew she would tire of feigning concern for me, they always did.

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