Le Serment

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

A Sensation Novel of the most gripping type

Little Fanny Creutz and her mother, Madeleine, seated by the fire were sewing during the evening.  The young girl was reading a book while awaiting her father, an important merchant of Bruges, while her mother repaired a shirt.

 

 

 

Winter was coming on and the nights were getting colder but they, both of them, appeared content with their lives; never had they known a life of poverty, and Fanny had grown up with all the luxury of a sheltered existence.

 

 

 

The Creutz family lived in a large house in one of the most fashionable streets in Bruges.  The house had almost a dozen bedrooms and there were six or seven servants who were almost part of the family themselves.

 

 

 

At six o'clock the mother called for the young servant Brigitte to bring the chocolate.  They drank in silence, and when they had finished, Madeleine said to the little girl, "Time for bed my dear."

 

 

 

"Please Mama," replied Fanny, "may I not stay with you till Papa comes home."

 

 

 

"You must go now," said the mother, "your father will not want to be bothered with you when he returns."

 

 

 

Fanny departed to her bedroom, although she knew that her father would send for her, as he always did.  She waited for his summons.

 

 

 

Fanny was deeply asleep when she was awakened by a noise downstairs, a noise which resounded throughout the whole house.

 

 

 

She went out onto the landing and peered over the banister where she saw her mother, looking back up at her with a look of horror on her face.

 

 

 

"What has happened!" said the little girl, but not a word did her mother say.  Brigitte took her back to her bedroom.

 

 

 

Brigitte!  Brigitte!  What is the matter with Mama!"

 

 

 

"Poor girl," replied Brigitte, "your father has had an accident!"

 

 

 

"Is he badly injured?" asked Fanny.

 

 

 

But Brigitte was silent but Fanny knew already.  Her father was dead.  Henceforth her life would be different.

 

 

 

From now on she would never walk again with her father by the lake in the great park in Bruges, never again play the piano for him in the evenings, never again would he send for her at night.

 

 

 

Six months later she was riding with her mother in their carriage along the avenue under the great plane trees that fronted the great houses.

 

 

 

At that time here mother was very rich.  Her husband, great merchant that he had been, had left her a legacy of many millions of francs.  Her income surpassed five hundred thousand a year.

 

 

 

But she was not happy because she was a woman who had need of a man; she needed those little tendernesses that only a man could provide; she had need of flattery, of the attentions of a lover.

 

 

 

Beside the carriage, mounted on a horse rode her lover.  He was called Gaston, Baron de Puig, a man from the high Pyrenees, and he was a man handsome of face and fine of figure.

 

 

 

His hair was black as coal, and his whiskers, black and curly also, covered his olive coloured face like the foaming waves at the sea shore.

 

 

 

Fanny never removed her eyes from his face, looking at him so strangely that her Mother, had she paid regard, would have been astonished.  But she paid no regard.  She had eyes only for Gaston.  Gaston who had squandered his fortune in gambling, and whose reputation made him notorious through the city: a wastrel, a rake, a reprobate, hardly a suitable companion for a young and rich widow.

 

 

 

Madame Creutz knew everything of love, but knew nothing of life or of the way of men.  She was going to marry Gaston, and what would become of Fanny then?

 

 

 

It was the 7th July 1863, Fanny's birthday, she was eighteen.  To celebrate the day Fanny, her mother and her new step-father were dining.  Convinced of her happiness Madame Creutz had married Gaston three months since.

 

 

 

What did Fanny think of these events?  During the meal Brigitte brought in the serving dishes.  She was a charmingly pretty girl sixteen years old, with eyes almost as black as her hair.

 

 

 

She had always been a good natured girl, but now she seemed downcast, not so much sad, rather as if she were disturbed by some great unhappiness.  Fanny looked at her, looked also at Gaston; she noticed that Gaston paid special attention to the young serving girl.

 

 

 

Although she was yet young herself, she understood exactly the thoughts of Gaston, and when they had finished dinner, she sought out Brigitte.

 

 

 

"What is going on between yourself and step-papa?" she asked.

 

 

 

"Nothing!" Replied Brigitte, but her eyes betrayed the turmoil in her soul.  Fanny remained silent and waited.

 

 

 

"But," continued Brigitte, and after several seconds, "I think that he wants those gifts that should not be granted.  If I do not submit he will dismiss me and I will be lost.  And if I do..."

 

 

 

"I am afraid what he will do.  He has an old knife – a poignard with a long sharp blade which he continually strokes.  I am but a poor servant.  I am poor, if I lose this position without a reference I will never get another..." and she collapsed in tears on Fanny's shoulder.

 

 

 

Night fell and the family retired.

 

 

 

It is the next morning.  Fanny, risen early is standing in the garden.  She is looking down.  At her feet lies the body of Brigitte, dying, her nightgown beside her torn by the blade of a sharp knife.  She lies upon the grass naked like a sacrifice to the ancient gods.

 

 

 

Fanny looks fixedly at a pool of blood congealing between the thighs of the young girl, its crimson colour contrasting strongly with the pure white of her virgin skin.  She follows with her eyes the trickle of blood which crosses the plain of her stomach and flows between the soft white marble mounds of her breasts from its source.

 

 

 

She has a single wound in the neck, made by the point of a poignard, from which the blood spurts forth like a fountain.  As she gasps for breath the gash in her neck gurgles and she vomits great gouts of clotted blood which a gradually suffocating her.

 

 

 

Her lips twitch convulsively, moving silently with incomprehensible words.  All of a sudden her back arches, which is the climax of her death throes, and her eyes show all the horror of a soul that knows that today is the first day of its death.  The light fades from her eyes.  She is dead.

 

 

 

Twelve months later Fanny is seated next to her mother.  The months since the murder had been terrible.  Gaston had been arrested for murder.  There had been a notorious trial.  Madame Creutz had obtained the services of the greatest advocate in the land to defend Gaston, and she herself had sworn alibi for him.  At last found innocent Gaston had returned to live with them.

 

 

 

But all these troubles had weakened her.  She had developed the persistent and dreaded cough of the consumptive, daily she wasted more and more.  Death was awaited with a horrible certainty.

 

 

 

She was speaking to Fanny:

 

 

 

"All believe Gaston to be a murderer," she gasped, "when I am dead it is your duty to go live with him.  It is your duty.  Do you understand?  You must go to his chateau in the Pyrenees and live there with him. You must do it.  Do you understand?"

 

 

 

 The request struck Fanny like a thunderbolt.  Live with Gaston!

 

 

 

"But Mama, I cannot do that.  All the world knows of Gaston and his misdeeds!"

 

 

 

"It is your duty.  You must swear it to me.  Swear to me on the Holy Bible that you will go and live with Gaston in his chateau!"

 

 

 

"But Mama, it would not be respectable, to live as such with Gaston, be he my step-papa or not!"

 

 

 

"His sister will accompany you," added her mother.  She is a respectable woman.  It is your duty.  You must swear a solemn vow on the Holy Book!"

 

 

 

And Fanny took the Bible in her hand and swore to live with Gaston forever.

 

 

 

Two months late her mother was dead, and Fanny, Gaston and his sister Antoinette left for the mountains.

 

 

 

It was midday, and Fanny wandered in the garden of her new house.  The countryside was totally different to that of her former home.

 

 

 

In the garden the heat of the sun scented the air with the perfume of thyme and rosemary.  She looked at the strange plants: the rock roses and the lavender, and she saw in the distance the high mountains of the Pyrenees.  If only I could go out into the high mountains, she said to herself, perhaps I could forget those terrible events and lose the phantom that haunts me forever.

 

 

 

But Gaston had forbidden her to leave the grounds, and even if she had wished it, the grounds were surrounded by a great wall, without a door, save one closed tight by a barred grill locked with a great key.

 

 

 

If only I had a friend, she thought, but there are only the servants : Ugoline an old kitchen maid and Hugo the gamekeeper, who also worked in the garden.  Neither one nor the other spoke French, for in these parts none spoke but the Occitan tongue.

 

 

 

From a high window Gaston spied on her through his field glasses.  He thought of her golden hair, which surrounded her face as an angel is surrounded by a halo of gold.  Like an angel, he said to himself, his eyes following the outline of her figure, so pretty, so petite, his eyes fixed on her bosom, soft and white and he thought of the poignard all that time ago in the garden in Bruges.  The poignard which cut slice so easily through the flesh.  And his mouth tightened and he licked his lips silently.  He put down his field glasses and returned to his room.

 

 

 

It is well that I have such grounds, he said to himself.  She will be safe there.  She will not escape.

 

 

 

Several months later Fanny was taking her favourite walk in the garden when Hugo approached her.  He babbled rapidly in Occitan, which Fanny could not understand, then furtively handed her a small note.  Fanny opened it and read:

 

 

 

"Mademoiselle Fanny.  I am the sister of Hugo.  The priest of the village has learned to me a little of the French tongue.  My brother had told me that you are confined to the garden of the chateau.  It is not good that you should be alone and friendless."

 

 

 

Now my brother has said to me also that there is a secret door under the wall in its most distant part from the house.  For this door Hugo has two keys, and if you wish it he will show you the place where we may meet.

 

 

 

On reading this letter Fanny nodded her head violently and indicated to Hugo to show her the place.

 

 

 

When she arrived there the sister of Hugo was standing in front of the little door half hidden by the bushes.

 

 

 

"Good day," she said very politely, "I am called Mathilde.". She was very small, but nevertheless already at sixteen years old almost a woman.  She had black her like all the people of those parts, big brown eyes and olive skin.

 

 

 

The first time Fanny saw her, she knew that Mathilde would be someone very special for her.

 

 

 

"Come this way," said Mathilde, "the door is open.  And she led Fanny through the wall and out into the surrounding countryside.

 

Fanny followed her and the two of them climbed a nearby hill; after ten minutes they came to a little white house, the home of Mathilde and Hugo.  Their parents were dead, and they lived there alone.

 

 

 

During the following weeks Fanny visited Mathilde several times, and the bond between them grew until the time came that Fanny knew that Mathilde was the indeed friend for whom she had been searching

 

 

 

However three months later Gaston requested Fanny to come into his office.  He was beside himself with rage.

 

 

 

"I understand," he said, "that for the past three months you have been in the habit of leaving the grounds to visit the sister of Hugo, when I had expressly forbidden you to do any such thing.  Fanny opened her mouth, but Gaston stopped her, "Do not attempt to deny it," he cried, "Hugo has told me all!  He has given me his key, and henceforth the door will be locked.  In case you try to get another, I will have the door blocked tomorrow!"

 

 

 

Suddenly Fanny realised that Gaston knew nothing of the other key which Hugo had given her.  This key was in her pocket, and she gripped it carefully.

 

 

 

“And also,” added Gaston, “my sister must leave the chateau today to deal with some affairs of the family.  I do not expect her back until next week.  But that counts for nothing, Ugoline, although she is a little deaf, is here, and,” he added after a short pause, “I will take care of you,” and he picked up his poignard and played carefully with the tip of the blade.

 

 

 

Fanny went back into the garden.  She knew that Gaston would be looking at her through his field glasses, but she had made preparations for this eventuality and arranged a way by which she could get a message to Mathilde in secret.  She scribbled the brief message on a scrap of paper Anus buried it in a hole in the wall.  Mathilde knew how to retrieve the message from the other side of the wall.  If only she could find a way to come!.

 

 

 

That night fanny lay in her bed.  The night was clear with a full moon.  She thought of that day now far distant, in the garden at Bruges.  It seemed a long time ago now.  She thought of the knife and the body of Brigitte and her mind went back to the sight of the red blood against the soft white skin.  She wondered what it felt like when the blade slid into the yielding flesh, slipping smoothly through the soft skin as if it were silk.  Her heart beat violently as the thoughts went through her mind.  She could not sleep.

 

 

 

Suddenly she heard light footsteps, almost as if on tiptoe, on the staircase, one, two, three as if they were getting closer and closer to her room.  Now, she knew the time had come, she must act now – or never!

 

 

 

Out of breath she struggle to reach the top of the hill ; in flying the château she had crept down the stairs, had crossed the garden and with the key Hugo had given her had passed through the wall.  Now she was running for her life.  If only she could reach Hugo’s house.  Hugo would save her.  She turned and looked at the figure with the knife that pursued her.  The figure was gaining on her, her legs felt like lead as she tried to climb.  She struggled on, but however hard she forced her legs to run she knew it was in vain, she would never reach Hugo’s house.  Suddenly her legs could support her no more and she collapsed to the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaston looked at Fanny ahead of him on the hill.  He had to catch her.  If not, all was lost.  He tried hard to close the gap between her and himself.  Then, as he watched, she passed over the brow of the hill and disappeared.  Gaston speeded up until he could go no faster.  Out of breath he reached the summit and looked down at the scene below.

 

 

 

Then he saw her.  Twenty feet away.  Just as he had seen her all that time ago in the garden at Bruges.  Standing, with the bloody poignard in her hand.  The body of Mathilde at her feet convulsing in its death throes.

 

 

 

All had been in vain.  The trial where he had risked his life to save her.  The death of her mother who could not live knowing the truth about her daughter.  The vow which her mother had made her take in the hope that she could be held secure and kill no more.

 

 

 

All was lost.

 

 

 

He went up to fanny and took the knife.

 

 

 

“Poor Mathilde,” she said, “I sent her a message to come to me tonight, but she could come no more.  It was better for her to die.  She will be happier dead.  But she was strong.  She ran fast.  But her skin was so white, so soft, just like Brigitte’s.  It welcomed the knife.”

 

 

 

Three months later Fanny sat in her cell awaiting her fate.  Hugo, stricken with remorse had hanged himself, and Gaston had resorted to a life of debauchery in the brothels of Paris.

 

 

 

“God will pardon all,” said her confessor.

 

 

 

“But I have no  need of pardon,” said Fanny, “I have committed no sine.  Brigitte was going to leave and return to her parents and Mathilde could come visit me no more.  My lovers could have known no happiness without me, and I so loved the softness of their skin, the smooth sensation of their bodies next to mine.  I could not have lived knowing that they lived without me.

 

 

 

She stood and prepared for the arrival of the executioner.

 

 

 

“And death,” she said, “is a thrill like nothing else.”

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: June 11, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Joex. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DampKitten

Wow! What a twist and, as always, very well written. It's your intention to promote Gaston as the murderer and it is completely effective to the moment of shock. It's written with a fable air. I really like it. Bravo, Joe!

Sun, June 21st, 2020 11:56pm

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