Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 11)
Jules Lablagues xx
My dearest Julie,
Your letter arrived not an hour ago and it was like a ray of sunshine in this cloudy house. Two nights ago a power cut caused a great deal of consternation. The heating system shut down and the temperature in the house fell rapidly. I immediately thought of Jacques and when I arrived in his room he was in a very distressed condition. I feared for his life. He was going into convulsions and it was obvious that his mentor did not know what to do. I do not know why but I took Jacques' head and pressed his right ear against my chest, close to my heart. He calmed down at once and I sat with him in this position for the rest of the night. My back is still aching. The power came back on at an opportune moment as I was becoming desperate to use the toilet and I was wondering how I would accomplish it. I considered carrying Jacques with me but, despite great loss of weight during the past few weeks, he is still a very big man and I was not sure I was capable of doing it.
You can imagine our anger when we discovered that the power-cut that nearly killed Jacques was purposely instigated by Pierre. My father is livid and threatens to disown him while my sister, Genevieve, is angry with him because she was obliged to paint in the dark. Odile expressed all our feelings when she attacked him with a horse-whip and screamed at the top of her voice that he was a fool and an idiot. Her present religion encourages the expression of true feelings and decries social niceties. Her frankness is quite off-putting sometimes and what she terms honesty seems, often, to be plain rudeness. She is able to be totally open with all of us except my father. She told me that in order to attain complete enlightenment and unity of soul and being she must be able to stand up to my father and speak her true mind but I do not think she can do this. My mother is the only one who speaks her true thoughts to him.
I will be at my cousins' estate for the month of August. I spoke with them on the telephone and they told me you are welcome to stay for the whole month. They will reserve the room adjoining mine and it will be yours for as long as you wish. I have been asked to tell you that you should not bother to pack too many clothes as one of the girls is bound to have dresses that would fit you if you do not mind wearing them. There are four girls in their twenties at the house and one of them must be your size. I frequently borrow some of my male cousins' clothes. There are three of them and they are all my size and build. It is very fortunate.
It is not a shooting estate so you will not have to learn how to use a gun. There is some fishing but mostly it is an agricultural estate with many farms and a few villages. As for your worries that you will have to eat pheasant, which I assure you is delicious, there is always a choice of menus. There is a kitchen staff of three and individual taste can be catered for. If you put your order into the kitchen a day in advance the chefs will prepare anything you wish. I have already started making a list of the things I wish to eat while I am there.
I am enclosing a map of the area and directions to the house. If your father will be driving you he can be accomodated at the house. It would be nice to meet your father and I am sure he would be made very welcome. If he wished to stay a few days I am sure it could be arranged. I think it is a good idea to bring the wedding dress with you. I will be driving over and will have plenty of room in the car. As you have not mentioned payment for the dress in your letters I assume I will pay you for it when we meet.
I, too, am very excited about meeting you but I am not worried about our not getting along well together. I feel I have grown to love you through your letters and I will love you no less in person. At first I saw you as a sister but, through time, this has changed and I now see you as a woman. I must admit that some of my thoughts towards you are not very brotherly so sleepovers, as you so wisely say, are out of the question.
If you are in Buckinghamshire on the 15th, and I sincerely hope you will be, you will experience the Revolution Ball. This is a rather grand affair with a full orchestra and a huge marquee on the lawn. We all dress in pre-revolutionary style clothes and speak, as much as possible, an ancient form of French that my cousins' ancestors, who fled France just days before the Revolution, brought with them to England. It has been passed down through the family and I learned it while I was living there. Much English and modern French will also be spoken so you will not be ignored. My whole family is invited but in recent years only my father and myself have gone.
The Ball lasts all day and all night and much champagne is drunk. At mid-night we raise our glasses and drink a toast to the King. Many tears are shed when we think of was what stolen from us by the revolutionary proletariat. They robbed us not only of our land and property but also of our way of life and our dignity. My cousins' ancestors also lost their country and lived out their lives in bitter exile in England. My cousins also see themselves as being in exile and, until the French government agrees to return the six hundred thousand hectares of lands which were stolen from them, they will remain exiled in England. They are, understandably, bitter and vengeful. They see themselves as biding their time until the French proletariat see the error of their ways and clamour for the return of the glorious monarchy.
A gift for my cousins is not really necessary but a bunch of flowers is always welcome. Your mere presence will be gift enough for me,
With great affection,
13 Beach Street
Dear sweet Jules,
Thank you thank you thank you for your letter. What you said about how you used to think of me as a sister and now you sees me as a woman made me go all funny inside but a really nice sort of funny. All my skin started tingling and my brain seemed to get really big and I thought I was going to pass out. I've never felt like that before and I'm still wondering what happened. My mum says that I get over excited. It's true but I never used to. I used to be the calmest one of the lot of us and it was always me who would stop people arguing and calm people down. Now I gets really hysterical sometimes for nothing. Then I gets really calm and wonders what all the fuss was about. I gets terrible mood swings and I never used to. One minute I'm as happy as a song bird and the next I'm sadder than I ever been in my life. I don't understand it.
I thinks its best if I arrives at your cousins place at the beginning of August and I takes it from there. I got to sign on for benefits on the 1st so I will be free from the 2nd onwards. If we gets along and everything goes fine who knows how long I might stay. I've got to sign on again on the 16th so I'll have to leave before then because I got to do it in this town where I lives. From what I can understand from your letter maybe it would be better to leave before the Revolution Ball. I wouldnt be able to trust myself if I had drunk champagne all day and all night. At Peter and Sheilas wedding I drank about five glasses and people had to tell me afterwards what I'd done because I couldnt remember anything I did. It was really embarrassing to hear about it and I'm really ashamed of myself. Apparently I had a really good time and made everybody laugh but it was good I had my two sisters there because they stopped me doing even more terrible things. I'm sure that if they werent there the others would have encouraged me when I started stripping and then who knows what might have happened. For a while after that a lot of men were really interested in me but that died down when they realised that I wasnt always like that and the champagne had gone to my head. I had a terrible hangover the next day. So maybe its best that I wont be there for the Revolution Ball although it sounds really interesting. I think its sad that they took away all your cousins ancestors land and I hopes that one day theyll get it back.
My dad says he'll drive me there but he'll drive right back afterwards because he says he wouldnt be comfortable in a big house. He says he's quite happy with a two up two down terrace house because its cosy and he feels sorry for your cousins with so much room where they probably hardly sees each other and probably gets lonely. I dont know about that because we lives in one room basically and that ones not very big and I still gets really lonely. I never felt this lonely ever before and it gets to me all the time. Some evenings I sits in the living room watching telly with all the others and I feels completely alone and its much worse than just being by myself. Its nice to be part of a family but I wants to make my own family. That would be the worst thing if I never got married or had any children. I dont mind not having a career or even a job but not having a husband and kiddies would be terrible. Thats what I thinks might happen to me and thats when I get lonely. I gets so sad that if I had a knife handy I might be tempted to slash my wrists and end it all. I've always wanted babies and when I was a little girl I treated all my dolls like they were babies. I know all girls does that but I went really over the top. On Tuesdays I went to a pretend post office to collect the child benefit and I got them inoculated in a pretend clinic and only gave them the best pretend food. The teacher set up a creche in the corner of the classroom so that I could bring them to school.
Your probably not interested in all that stuff about babies but its what I thinks about all the time. Its not that I wants one right now but it would be nice to feel sure that it will happen one day.
It was terrible what Pierre done about cutting off the electricity. He seems really childish and my dad says that a month working down the car factory would make a man of him. My dad says that making model airplanes is all very well and good for a hobby but its no way to spend your life even if you do become the champion. He says he might be the fastest onion slicer in the world but he wouldnt want to spend all his time doing it. I dont know about that because if I was the best in the world at something it would be really nice. I'd like to be the best mum in the world. I wouldnt do it like my mum although I'm not complaining but times have changed and I'd just do things different. My mums really wonderful but she comes from a different time and it wouldnt suit me. I got lots of books about bringing up children and I cuts out any articles I finds in magazines and puts them in an album thats supposed to be for stamps that someone gave me once.
I had that dream again where I'm a lady in a fine dress with a tiara and everything and I still couldnt find my room and then just like the other time I gets really tired of going round and round the house and decides to go into the next room I comes to and sleep there no matter what but when I gets there the door wont open. Then I tries another door and that ones locked and then I finds that all the doors are locked and thats when I starts crying and it feels really good and I dont try to stop myself and the tears are rolling down my cheeks and my nose is running but I dont care. I wails even louder and thats when Kirsty woke me up. The lights was on and my mum and dad are standing there looking at me and wondering whats happening. Kirsty says she'd been watching me for a long time and I seemed to be enjoying myself which she thought was strange because I was crying my eyes out at the same time. She didnt want to stop me but then she started getting a bit worried in case I went hysterical and so she woke me up. Dad says he's worried about me and thinks I need a holiday. Its about eight years ago since I had a holiday and I've forgotten almost what its like. I been on day trips sometimes but I havent been away anywhere. I'm really looking forward to August and I'm already planning what clothes I'm going to wear. I'm really excited.
Please write back soon. I really likes getting letters from you.
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