Monday, July 18, 2016

The Phoenix - Chapter Five


Chapter Five.

     The next morning, Marcella woke up before dawn.  She fed the pigs and the chickens and then gathered their eggs. She then went and started the fires in the rooms of her brother, stepmother and stepsisters. However, Andre wasn’t even in his room. After supper last night, he left for town and obviously decided to spend the night drunk in some whore’s bed. Well, that was one less fire she had to make.

     Then Marcella went down into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She had just finished the bread when Ysobella and the girls were just taking their places at the main table. Marcella would eat in the kitchen from the small bread loaf she made for herself and several apples. She stopped eating with the family years ago.

     “Where is your brother?” asked Ysobella when Marcella brought them their bread.

    “I do not know, Milady,” Marcella said, “He’s probably at the tavern. Would you like me to fetch him?”

     “If you would,” said Ysobella in a bored tone, “and do it soon. I don’t want you getting behind on your chores.”

     “Yes, Milady,” Marcella said. Ever obedient, ever a good servant.

~ ~ ~

     It was almost noon before Marcella was able to get out of the estate and make the ten mile walk into town, but certainly didn’t mind the walk. It was wonderful to be outside and in the fresh early fall air. She wrapped her cloak tighter around her shoulders.

     “Once consolation to Andre being gone is at least I have an excuse for getting off the grounds,” she thought.

     Marcella walked up the road and passed little cottages with children chasing chickens and women doing their laundry. She smiled and waved and they waved back. Oftentimes she wondered if that might be her one day; a farmer’s wife and mother to four maybe five children. Would any man want a leper for a wife? She shook her head at the thought and focused on her mission to get her brother back to the estate as soon and as quickly as she could.

     Finally, Marcella made it into the bustling market town. Animal noises were mixed in with yells and calls from all over. Surprisingly enough, Marcella knew very few people in town. She knew several of the street vendors, but she kept to herself and didn’t waste time in talking. She hoped she never came off as rude or inconsiderate though. Ysobella was insistent that Marcella not waste time in town.

     The tavern and whorehouse, however, she knew quite well. If Andre wasn’t at home, he could normally be found there.

     “Looking for you brother?” asked Alais, one of the prostitutes at the door.

      Marcella smiled, “That obvious?”

     “Come on,” said Alais pulling her inside, “I’ll take you to him.”
     For a second Marcella was apprehensive. There were a lot of men in there…she didn’t them to get the wrong idea.

     Alais sensed her fear, “Don’t fret, sweet one,” she said kindly, “No man will hurt you.”

     True to her word, Alais kept her arm wrapped tightly around Marcella as they walked through the tavern filled with drunken men and tired looking prostitutes. She couldn’t imagine such a job, being in such desperation. At that moment she realized how so much better her life was. She was servant in her own house, but at least her dignity and honor were still intact.

God forgive me for thinking that my life was so lowly.”

     Although the prostitutes were despised, hated and rejected, many of them were quite kind and Marcella always tried to repay their kindness to her. Alais made it to the top of the stairs and knocked on one of the doors.

     “Andre!” she yelled, “Andre! Your sister is here to collect you. Again.”

     There was no answer.

     “Andre!” Alais yelled louder, “Get your worthless self out here NOW!

      The door finally opened and Andre looked out. Clearly drunk and obviously had no sleep at all.”

    “Get dressed and get downstairs,” Alais commanded, “This girl shouldn’t even have to step foot in here.”

     “Well, given the state she is at home, I wouldn’t be surprised if she started coming here more often. At least she’ll get paid for her work.

     Alais backhanded him in the mouth so fast that Marcella definitely did not see it coming nor did she have time to react to, what was now, the worst of Andre’s cruel taunts.

    “Don’t you ever, ever, talk about her like that again, you worthless, cowardly bastard! Now get downstairs!”

     She took Marcella back under her wing and hurriedly got her out the door.

     “That was cruel what he said,” remarked Alais as they waited outside.

     “It’s nothing I’m not already use to,” Marcella reassured her.

     “He’s better off shooting off that mouth to the Muslims in the Holy Lands,” said Alais.

     “What?” Marcella asked

     “You don’t know? The Crusades have started again! That’s why there are so many men here today. Last night they celebrated at the fact that we are returning to war. Every able bodied man is signing up to go to Jerusalem.”

     Marcella couldn’t believe it. Another Crusade? What did these kings honestly hope to achieve by trying to take back a city that wasn’t even theirs? What Muslims and Jews did was their own affair. Why did France have to be dragged back in?

     Finally Andre staggered out, still not sober at all.

     Alais looked him dead in the eye, “Sometimes I cannot stand the sight of you.”

    “In the daylight perhaps,” Andre said.

     She rolled her eyes and gave Marcella’s shoulders one more squeeze and walked back inside. As Andre and Marcella walked through town silently, the buzz of the Crusades was all over in the air. Marcella couldn’t believe she hadn’t picked up on it before. Excitement for a war? It didn’t make any sense.

     The brother and sister got out of the town and made their way down the dusty road that led to their estate.

     “Are you going to the Crusades?” Marcella asked, finally breaking the silence.

     “Not sure yet,” said Andre, sounding much more sober.

     “Well, I think you should.”

     Andre stopped and stared at her, but said nothing.

     “Well,” Marcella continued, “It’s what you always wanted. To be a soldier and fight in many wars.”

     Andre scoffed, “You have no idea what I want.”

     “No!” Marcella said with more force than she had intended, “You don’t know what you want! At least if you travel to Jerusalem you’ll have done something with your life. Because what do you do here, except get drunk and whore around? And that does us no good. You’ve never been asset to this family; just a liability that never carries’s their own weight.”

     She paused for a second and then continued, “I want you gone.”

     Now, Andre actually looked surprised, “Excuse me?”

     “You heard me. I want you gone by tonight. And…and I don’t care if I ever…see you again.”

     “You don’t mean that,” Andre said.

     Marcella smiled, “Just like you don’t mean that I’m responsible for Mother’s death? Believe me, Andre; I have never been more serious in my life. You need to leave and do something with you life.”

     “So you really don’t care if you never see me again?” asked Andre

     “My brother is gone and all you are is just an adult shell of what he once was. You abandoned me when I needed you the most and now, I really do not care what happens to you, because you really are…nothing to me anymore.”

     For once Andre said nothing.

     “So just go. Leave, go to war, have your adventures, get drunk, whore around, do whatever you want, just do it away from me and away from our home!”

      With that, Marcella turned her back to him and walked back by herself, leaving her brother alone to contemplate what she just said. 

~ ~ ~

     Later that evening, Andre announced at the supper table that he was signing up for war and that he was leaving that night. Ysobella secretly seemed happy at this while the girls looked somewhat disappointed. For Meg’s part, she probably wanted to go and Constance would miss him harassing Marcella who was in the kitchen when she heard this news. For once, she and Ysobella actually agreed on something and that realization terrified her.

     Once Andre had everything packed, he didn’t bother saying goodbye to his Ysobella or Constance, but Meg did say her farewell and asked him to bring her back something from the Holy Lands. Andre couldn’t help but smile and said he would try to find an item fitting for her.

     As he walked down the path, he saw Marcella outside gathering the evening eggs. The chickens all squawked around her bare feet as she smiled and talked to them all by their names. So intent she was on her work that she didn’t look up to see her brother standing at a distance watching her.

     You’re just a shell of what my brother once was. You mean nothing to me now.

     Her words rang through his head. And in his heart, he knew she was right. So he continued walking down the road and didn’t look back.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely story Ivy! Looking forward to chapter six!
    I tagged you on my blog. :) You don't have to do it.

    ReplyDelete

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