A Serial Novel

A literary experiment in judicial philosophy and historical fiction, inter alia.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chapter 13: Men


Celimene had thought Juliette would be happier when she heard about Jean-Pierre; she didn’t understand why she wasn’t. that’s how little sisters are supposed to be I should know she said. But tears ran down Juliette’s face. didn’t you listen to a word I said?


This is what Juliette had told Celimene to convince her to let her accompany her to Amsterdam.

I can always remember being with the one who everyone calls Father. when I was very young I thought it was because he was my father. but when I was old enough to ask him about my mother he just said she died when you were born and so you ae an orphan and when I asked him what about my father he said your only father is in heaven. then why do they call you father? to remind you of your father in heaven. and what should I call you. you should call me Father.

I always remembered being with Father even if he wasn’t really my father. my earliest memories are of him, or rather of him coming to me in the dark. sometimes I would wake up in the night and when it was dark my face would feel wet then I’d feel tremors and I’d just start to think they are coming from me, these tremors if I cause them I must be terrible. and when I terrified myself and the tremors grew more terrible he would come. I’d see light and then he’d be holding me against his chest. his chest would vibrate strange low and rhythmic vibrations and after awhile the terrible tremors would pass.

but I don’t know if I ever really loved him. it was all too much, I think. until I met the sisters, he was the only person I knew how to talk to. why do other people talk with their mouths? I asked. because they are fallen. but you talk with your mouth too. I am fallen also. and what about me? you have been chosen to speak only with your father. but you can speak with me. God has chosen me to be like your father, to speak with you for him I do not know why because I am also fallen I suppose that it is my penance for being fallen to speak the language of men but to know the language of God. then am I chosen? that is what we are going to see you must look and listen carefully many are called but few are chosen. he looked at me so long and so still I thought maybe he’d forgotten how to speak then he said it would make so much more sense if you were a boy.

and that’s why we went to the sisters who had taken the vows of silence and I loved speaking to them. but sometimes they wanted so much to mother me it got too noisy and I got tired of them calling me the daughter of their silence.

the first person I loved was Heloise. don’t laugh at me! I knew her at a different time than you. she and Genevieve were my first and only friends. I think Gen got tired of me but Heloise would let me tag along. one time Father let them take me to the ballet. it was the first time I ever saw music. until then I thought only I saw the rhythm of the world. but it was there, not just with the dancers but in the air around the strings in the arms of the brass and percussion and streaming out of the conductor’s baton. are you bored Heloise asked me we can leave. please let me stay and don’t interrupt I begged. she didn’t. that’s when I loved her. the only two people I’ve ever known who know how to be quiet with me are her and you. (Is this what makes Celimene the true poet, that she knows how to be quiet?)

but how can I let you be my little sister if you love the one who took our family from us? Celimene had asked. because she left me for some man she told me she didn’t even love and I don’t know if I can forgive her, said Juliette. then we understand one another very well said Celimene. but you must forgive Justice because what he did he did under her spell. it will be very difficult but I will try.

It was quite a coincidence that they had run away at the same time. Juliette had wanted to go where Father Fulbert couldn’t find her so she had been making her way towards the lands of the Marquis of Orleans as quickly as a gutter-snipe could without arousing the wrong kind of attention. Celimene had been just one day’s ride from their estate when she thought she saw the charming little girl who had taught her how to speak with her hands, the only joyful thing that had come out of Jacques’s marriage to Heloise. there’s no point of going toward the kingdom of death come with me if you really can’t go home she had said after Juliette had told her everything. That night she had adopted Juliette, because the only thing she had hated about being the youngest was not having a little sister of her own.

But now she did, right at the start of her journey to reclaim her brother and her family. Surely that was a good omen.


So why couldn’t Juliette be more happy for her? “So this was how Just must have felt,” she thought but had the presence not to say to Juliette. have you even seen him, Juliette asked. no but I’ve read him. but I’ve seen him said Juliette. And she told Celimene what she had seen out the window. When she shared what she had seen she became party to Celimene’s infatuation and this restored their relationship. So she could be happy for her now. This also meant that she could feel a sharp pang, bitter and loaded with guilt when Celimene said so he’s a friend of Just’s! that’s the best news I’ve heard since we got here. It was in that painful guilt that she finally felt the call from her father. And she understood what Father meant by “fallen.”

It was the condition she was in when she decided not to tell Celimene that she had seen Jean-Pierre a second time, when she had followed Floris on her errands.


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