maandag 29 juni 2015
The Woman in Red: Chapter 34
34. A dramatic love story
They would go with the TGV to Berlin. Katarina had bought the tickets on the internet and had printed them out with Cecile’s printer. After saying goodbye to her sister, they left in a taxi to go Paris, where they would make a nine-hour trip to Berlin. Frau Bertha had promised to fetch them by her chauffeur.
When they were sitting at their places in the high-speed train compartment Jean-Pierre began to think this adventure could be more dangerous than their experience with the hypnotist.
‘I’m not altogether happy with it, Kat. That lady is very important. I hope we don’t get into trouble. Maybe it’s just a tape we want to take from her, but these Germans don’t laugh about the security of their VIP’s.
Katarina sat next to the window and looked outside. ‘I know her as a smart lady who’s is open-minded. I was thinking if we couldn’t explain the things like they are. But a moment later I have doubts and…’ She desperately shook her head. They had left for Germany without a real plan, how would all this end?
‘Your mother… is she a real Baroness, is she really aristocratic, Katarina?’ Jean-Pierre had wanted to ask this already a long time ago, but because of the raid on the castle, their escape and the kidnapping of Beatrice it had never been the best moment.
‘My mother wasn’t born a Baroness, Jean-Pierre. She was a young woman from a village where nothing exciting ever happened. Maman was a teacher in French. There was a little school in the village where she lived. Together with a few other teachers, she cared for the education of a little group of children.’
Jean-Pierre furrowed his brows. ‘But how has she become a Baroness or is it just a way of addressing she used for her clients at the Chateau?’
‘Actually, it’s a very passionate love story that has ended dramatically. Yes, I see you’re looking surprised, but in the past my mother was very different. More like me, if I may believe the rumors. I’ll tell you what I once have heard from one of her best friend in the village she lived in. Mother doesn’t know that I know this. I’ll never tell her myself because I don’t want to hurt her.’
Jean-Pierre didn’t understand it at all now, but he was curious to hear the life story of the mother of the woman he loved.
‘Like I said, there wasn’t much happening in the village my mother lived in. They had a bakery and a butcher and also a little supermarket, but that was all. For other things, they had to go the next city. One day a young man came to the village. He had lost his way and stopped to ask for directions. The person he asked the way was my mother.’
Katarina looked as in a dream in front of her while she was telling. Every time she thought or spoke about her mother, she knew the person who had given birth to her, must be very afraid now. Actually, she might not think further about it otherwise she would lose the courage to go on. Now she had to be strong. She swallowed and went on.
‘It was love at first sight. The young man felt attracted to my mother, he stayed overnight at the only guesthouse the village possessed. The love was mutual, my mother was head over heels in love with him. His name was Jean-Luc and he was from nobility, but that she only knew later. Jean-Luc wouldn’t let her know he was a Baron. They agreed to see each other again and Jean-Luc met her several times to take a walk in a near forest. Another time he took her to the city to strolling the street and showing her all sorts of sights.’
Jean-Pierre knew where this story was going. If Jean-Luc was from nobility and Beatrice now was a Baroness… well, there could only be one explanation.
‘Indeed,’ Katarina told him, ‘after a while Jean-Luc asked her to marry him and the day after he fetched her with a Rolls Royce. My mother didn’t know what was happening. He took her to his castle… Chateau Dauphin. Then the castle hadn’t got his nowadays destiny. Jean-Luc had a lot of servants and when they arrived at the castle, they stood already in a row to meet my mother. Imagine what she must have thought. She must have fancied herself a princess.’
‘But you said it was a dramatic love story. Has the baron died then?’ Jean-Pierre was listening very interested to her story.
‘Yes, indeed. It has to be about a month after their marriage. They had been to the movies one night and walked together to their car that was parked in a side-street. Arrived at the spot some kind of criminal was waiting for them who wanted their money and jewels. He tried to pull mother’s wedding ring from her finger with violence. She resisted a bit and he got angry and slapped her in the face. Jean-Luc became furious and jumped on the man. But he wasn’t a match for the robber. He suddenly had a knife in his hand and stabbed the Baron a few times in his chest and run away.’ She stopped talking for a moment and Jean-Pierre took her hand to support her.
Katarina had to catch her breath and she wiped with her free hand a tear from her eyes. ‘Jean-Luc died in the arms of my mother. He left her everything, also Chateau Dauphin.’
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere