woensdag 10 december 2014
The Woman in Red: Chapter 8
Four hours later a dazzled Jean-Pierre came awake. ‘What is… have I slept? I feel very muzzy!’ He rubbed his eyes and looked at a smiling Katarina.
‘I think you’ve drunk too much champagne, dear. Don’t fear, I didn’t make advantage of the situation.’ She took a black piece of linen and handed it over to Jean-Pierre. ‘To make the surprise completely. We’ll arrive any minute, and you shall see… it’s worthwhile.’
A moment he looked still a bit surprised from Katarina to the black linen and back. A moment of doubt, but when he saw the pouting lips Katarina was making, he smiled and took the clothing from her. Jean-Pierre putted it around his head so that he couldn’t see a thing. At that moment the car stopped.
Katarina got out first, and he heard the grinding of gravel. Strange, he thought, you were paying more attention to this sounds when you can’t see a thing. She took him by the hand and led him like a guide dog over a meandering path.
‘Watch it, we have five little steps here,’ she warned him. Thanks to Katarina, he didn’t trip and took these obstacles without effort. He heard her opening a door and when she closed it with a squeak, he supposed the house they were visiting must be quite old. Jean-Pierre was smelling flowers, he couldn’t say which kind of species, probably different sorts.
Katarina stood behind him and turned him a bit to the left; ‘Just a few seconds, have patience, I’ll remove the linen now.’ Her words matching the deeds, she loosened his blindfold.
His mouth literary fell open in amazement. He stood in a big hall where on his left and on his right side a broad stairway led to the second floor. Above the middle of this space, a very big chandelier glittered in the crystals as they were stars. The marble floor where he stood on, you could mirror yourself in it and in the center there was a little fountain with a dolphin in the middle. Out of the animals, mouth flowed water. He didn’t know where to look first. On the steps of both the stairways a red carpet colored beautiful with the warm brown of the wood. Upon different tables on the right and the left side of the stairs, there were several bunches of flowers. Roses, carnations, and lily’s… you name it, even species Jean-Pierre didn’t recognize.
‘May I welcome you at Château Dauphin, Jean-Pierre,’ Katarina said.
A girl came through a door on the right side and made a little inclination for him and Katarina. ‘Give her your luggage, she will put it in your room. You have the “Chambre Rouge,” the red room for those who don’t speak French. I think all sound sexier in the language of Molière.’ She laughed her gobbling laugh, something he would recognize everywhere. It came from deep in her throat, very sensual.
‘Katarina, you are absolutely right, I couldn’t have imagined this in a thousand years. A real castle… a hotel?’ He looked around and didn’t find something that could pass for a reception desk. The dolphin which had given his name to the castle willingly kept spouting water.
She came closer and gave him a light kiss on his cheek. ‘For you Jean-Pierre, nothing but the best. You could say this is a sort of a hotel, but for very important guests. Later, maybe more about this.’
Out of one the doors under the stairs came a stately older lady. She was dressed in a long skirt and a blouse with lace around the arms and neck. Upon the blouse, she wore a brooch that represented a dolphin. Again, probably a reference to the name of the castle. When he directed his gaze at Katarina, he noticed she didn’t laugh anymore. Maybe it was his imagination; he thought her face tightened when this woman entered the hall.
‘Bonjour, Madame la Baronesse,’ Katarina greeted with a little bow at her. ‘May I present to you our new guest.’ She pointed at Jean-Pierre, who stretched his arm to give her a hand. Maybe the baroness had a fear of stains, or maybe she felt too distinguished to respond but she just nodded her head.
‘Oh yes, you’re Jean-Pierre if I’m well informed. I presume you had a good drive to here.’ Without waiting for him to answer she went on. ‘May I propose that you freshen yourself up in your room, and afterward Katarina will give you the tour of the Château. I would like you to restrict to the public places, some parts are private and we like to keep this so. Isn’t it, Katarina?’
Katarina just nodded. ‘Oui, Maman… Yes, mother!’
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere 28/11/2014