The pearl set sat on a special vanity in her mother’s room, where only she and her lady’s maid, Adelé, were allowed.The vanity sat just adjacent to the door so that the pearl set could be seen easily by passerby’s. The necklace was gently placed on a small neck mannequin and the tear-drop pearl earrings, encrusted with gold at the top, were placed to the side, laying in the ruched fabric of a velvet cocoon.
Fleur’s sisters doted on the set, each of them hoping to inherit it.
Blanche Clementine, the oldest, believed it was her due as the eldest. In 18th Century France wrought with primogeniture, the first born daughter had every right to favour from the matriarch. Social custom dictated her right to inherit all the matriarchs belongings upon her death.
Yet all the same, the oldest brother, Pierre Clementine, was married to Celiné Roux, Marchioness du Bourgogne, France. The lovely dark-haired woman would show-case the pearls beautifully on the peaches and cream complexion of her elegant neck. A gift such as the pearl set would certainly be her due as the wife of the eldest son. The first-born male in any family could expect to be awarded every extravagance as the inheritor of the family title and estate. Roux would also assume these privileges, which would inevitably negate the eldest Clementine daughters.
The matriarch, however, had never really been moved to allocate favour to the eldest child. She preferred worth over the blind acquiescence of primogeniture.
Agnes Clementine, the third born had been married first, and she ought to receive them since she had been the first daughter to give the matriarch children. Even now her stomach was swollen with another child for her mother to call petite dauphin. Bien sûr, she had yet to produce a male heir for her husband, Olivier Marchand, Duc du Lyon. Agnes, of all of the matriarchs daughters was favoured least. She had too many noisy children and no notion of the social graces a woman of the noblesse needed to possess. She was also overly tender and often shrieking.
Margaux Clementine, vain and pretty, was honoured as the finest Clementine daughter. The matriarch was partial to her more than any other daughter. A face like a poupée, Margaux was adoured by the highest noblesse as lovely enough for the prince. The matriarch paraded her around France, to parties at Versailles in the hopes that she would conquer the heart of a Fil de France with her wonderfully noble features and aristocratic grace. None other than Margaux could awe an entire ballroom with her entrance. Honey-colored tresses and icy eyes from the now-dead Dowager, gave her an exotic appeal that petite filles françaises admired and envied and gentlemen adoured. Painters, allured from Italy and Austria, vied for her portrait. She was the muse of many a poets prose and even a harpist honoured her beauty in his selection for a Duc. However, while she owned all the social graces a lady must possess: needle-point, dance, art, language, penmanship, and a courtly air, she held no comprehension for advanced thought. She regarded all in her family except the matriarch as beneath her and she exuded a particular dislike for Fleur that the little child did not understand, but because of it, certainly took care to avoid her.
There would be no agreement between the siblings as to who should receive the pearls. But one things was for certain: little Fleur Clementine was never to have them.
Fleur–a destructive hellion as her mother called her–would surely break the pearls from the fragile chain that held them together.
Fleur had never laid eyes on the pearl set, nor had she been particularly curious of them until the matriarch announced her decision to lend them to a daughter for the Grand Automne Ball at the Chateau of Versailles. This particular ball was significant because the Fils de France: Prince Claude-Florus et Prince Guillaume were going to be in attendance. Now it was almost paramount Fleur see them to know if she too should be vying for them as her sisters and Celine were.
Presently, she sat settled in the nursery beside her sister Agnes’s children, forced to entertain them. Agnes was always leaving her children with Fleur, and then engaging herself in another affair. The youngest enfant lay in the crevice of tiny limbs, clawing her hands through Fleur’s hair, while the other two girls sang nursery rhymes. Fleur did not like them. They we always moist and noisy and held little regard for other things.
At the sound of her mother’s voice, she shoved the twirling girls down and told them to quiet. She would be in trouble if her mother heard the ruckus they made. Fleur overheard the matriarch mention the pearls. With some difficulty, Fleur lifted the enfant into her arms and half-dragged her to a pile of blankets that were littered on the floor. She laid the heavy child who had begun to whimper on the pile and ran to the door, pressing her ear against it.
Shoving a white knuckle in her mouth, Fleur listened intently, trying to make sense of the mature conversation.
“Mon Dieu! To hear ma petite dauphins having tête-à-tête over my pearls! I should think Margaux should have them. She is the fairest and none other would bewitch the prince as she. What is your opinion Adelé?” Her mothers clear, twinkling voice rang.
“Begging your pardon mistress, I am thinking Blanche should have them. She is the oldest.” Adele paused and then breathed. “Though she has neither Margaux’s grace nor beauty.” Adelé said pointedly.
Fleur opened the door to the nursery and watched her mother enter her room and leave the door slightly ajar behind her.The pearl set shone, as they always did, in front of the window, enthralling anyone who was to walk by.
“She is plain in feature and her neck is short for them. She would not flatter my pearls.” The matriarch stated.
“Ah bien, Celiné could wear them. She has the stature for them and I would think her pretty enough.”
“Yes,” the woman sighed, arranging jewels on her milky bosom, “mais non, Celiné cannot marry the prince. My pearls must go to one of my other daughters.”
An absent-minded wave of her hand instructed Adelé to began undressing her.
“What of Agnes then?”
“Mon Dieu! She is an imbecilè. Why she will see my pearls as often as she sees her own feet.”
At this point, Fleur had completely left her station tending to Agnes’s children, and crept as close as possible to her mother’s door. She glanced at the glorious illumination of the pearls through the crack of the door.
She had no view of them yet even from her hiding place in the crevice of a wall, Fleur could feel their power. It radiated across the room as a feminine sword meant to be used as a tool to conquer by any who wore it. The light surrounding the pearls was enough to beguile anyone near to move closer as Fleur did. Actually, she moved so suddenly as to make her presence aware to Adelé.
With wide eyes, Fleur begged for Adelé’s silence.
Adelé, a smart service girl of nearly fourteen years had no particular liking for the matriarch. She despised Margaux and Celine, and held no use for Blanche or Agnes. She was mature for her age, but acted accordingly only when it suited her. Fleur’s fondness for life intrigued her, and her carefree life, Agnes envied. She found joy in watching the child’s escapades though they hardly ended successfully.
It was promised with a single nod.
“What of petite Fleur, non?” Adelé breathed heavily as she pulled at the strings of the matriarchs corset. “She will be just as beautiful as Margaux, if not more beautiful. She will certainly catch a good husband if she settles.”
Fleur had fully crept into the room and was gazing at her mothers pearl set. She laid a small hand on the vanity, easing it up slowly as if the pearls required a moment of significance before they were held.
“Adelé, Fleur is much too young. If I gave my pearl set to her for even a moment they would somehow be broken upon their return.” The matriarch laughed affectionately.
Adele laughed as well. “Ah, but what an interesting journey they would have had.”
Fleur’s shaking little milky hands brushed the pearls. She was as ignorant of the nature of her mothers conversation as her mother was of Fleur’s presence in the room.
They were pure in texture, perfectly spherical, as if molded by a divine force. Fleur was entranced by the shine of the pearl, mesmerized by the symmetry of its shape, the wonderful luminous glow. Never seeing anything quite like it, she wanted ownership.
She gently lifted the pearls.
Please give me all the feedback that you can. I know I get comma-happy sometimes or (and 🙂 ) too long-winded and detailed. All critiques are welcome!
part 2: will hopefully be here before Friday, but if not, definitely by next Monday.Songs that inspired me: Vanessa Mae-I Will Always Love You (this is a beautiful violin solo) The Cinematic Orchestra –Time and Space