Chapter 1 : Prologue
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May 25th, 1799.
The spring days were slowly getting warmer, but Sylvie Bonnet could no longer find a reason to smile. She had only ten years and yet she spent most of them worrying about her mother, somehow she’d always found herself a reason to be happy but now her darling mother was gone and Sylvie no longer had a reason to smile.
Her father, a horrid man whom her mother had spent the last years of her life trying to escape, did not seem dim at his wife’s death nor did he seem to notice a difference. Little Henri was far too young to understand that his mother was gone and she was not coming back. Sylvie could not bear to look into his wide and worried eyes when he tugged on Sylvie’s skirt and asked for his mummy nor could she bear to tell him just where their mother was.
Twenty days had passed since the death of her mother, and she had yet to visit her grave. She always had so much work to do around the manor that would not be completed without her, as all the maids and servants had left months before. The hours and days she should have spent mourning her mother were spent in the kitchen and in her brother’s nursery.
Sylvie dusted off the crumbs from her dress and placed her mother’s favourite china bowl on a tray before gently rising up the marbled staircase. At the top of the stairs, she could hear her father in a ‘business meeting’ with another woman in the library and her little brother singing softly to himself. Everyone had moved on but her, her mother’s last words still ringed in her ears, the last, soft kiss her mother had planted on her cheek still provided a warm sense of comfort, as though she would still be returning home although Sylvie knew it would never happen again.
Ever since she was born, Sylvie had always admired her mother for standing up against the monarchy and fighting alongside all the other women of France for their rights but she wished her mother had not been so involved. She had only twenty nine years and had so much more to live for, she’d always told Sylvie that but as she reached Henri’s nursery, Sylvie began to wonder what she had to live for now.
“Sylie! Sylie! ” Henri cheered as she placed his food beside her on the floor before gracefully resting on his bed. He grinned up at her and took a large bite of his slice of bread before resting it back on the plate and climbing onto his bed too. “Why I can’t I see your face anymore Sylie?” He asked, trying to push away Sylvie’s black mourning veil but she quickly stopped him.
“It’s for mummy, Henri. She would want us to mourn” She replied in a quiet voice, Henri seemed to accept this answer and buried his head on her shoulder.
“Mummy’s not coming home is she?” He asked, softly. Sylvie’s breath caught in her throat and she shook her head.
“She’s gone up to the heavens Henri” She whispered, a single tear falling from her eyes.