This short story was originally posted on Kennahartian.com.
A Little Background:
For writing class (a couple years ago), I had to choose a character from The Four Philosophers by Peter Paul Rubens, give him a personality, and write several paragraphs showing it. My, er, four paragraphs turned into a short story…….
I figured I would post the story on my blog one part at a time. It will be separated into 3 parts, and I will try to post it once every two weeks. (That way you have to keep coming back 😉😏)… (See how I did that?)
In order to understand the story, you have to know a little bit of background. The main character’s name is Charles Carton. He is the older brother of Sydney Carton (From Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. I love that book. It’s a little depressing but SO good. You should go read it.) and another little girl, who I named Sara. Neither of them actually come into the story, but you needed to know that.
Also, one thing I do before I write is give what I’m writing to God. If you like the story, it’s because of Him.
And Without further ado, The Story:
Charles Carton didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to go to the meeting because he would be expected to sign, and that would mean betraying his parents and Sara. Little Sara! If only she had been stronger. If only he had been stronger and told Jean about his past. Then he wouldn’t have to sign, but his life would probably be over. He sighed. As his carriage clip-clopped up to his house, Carton gathered his coat and bags and got ready to leave the carriage. It rolled to a stop and he got out.
“Take the buggy to the stable.” The driver nodded and drove off. Carton sighed again and went down the crumbling pathway and up the crumbling steps of his wife’s ancestral home. He would think it over during the night. Carton slowly walked through the darkened hallways of his manor and arrived at a plain door. He knocked softly, half afraid of what he was going to find.
“Come in,” a soft voice said. Carton turned the knob slowly and walked into the room.
“How is she?” A fire burned in the corner of the one room in the house that looked over the massive gardens. Sitting in a chair in the corner next to the bed. was the one maid who hadn’t left; an elderly lady named Marie.
“Little Eléonore is sleeping for now. I’m afraid nothing has changed, Charles. I’m sorry. I’m still praying.” Carton turned to go without replying, looking the very picture of hopelessness. Marie started speaking again. “Why don’t you try going to the church tomorrow?” It was a request she had tried many other times to no avail.
“Maybe. Maybe I will.” Carton left the room leaving the old lady with a surprised look on her face.
The next morning he awoke with a start. “I’m late!” He quickly dressed, pulled his coat on and hurried to the stable. “Louis?” He called for his driver. “I don’t have time for this!” “Louis, if you’re playing a trick on me…” Carton groaned, realizing he would have to walk. Finding someone to drive him would take too much time. If he was any later, well, he didn’t want to think about what Jean would do to him.
Walking into the elegant marble building where important meetings were held for that part of France, Carton realized just how late he was. René, Francois, and Jean were already there, looking at him disapprovingly.
“You are late, Charles.” Jean said. “We were just about to sign the paper. I wasn’t wanting to have to send you to the Bastille.” He chuckled, “But you hadn’t yet arrived. I trust,” his eyes became as cold as steel, “you will sign that paper? You wouldn’t want something drastic to happen to Eléonore.”
“Well, I’m here now.” Carton said dryly, paling at Jean’s threats and the mention of the place his father had died. “I had to walk. My driver decided to quit, along with all the rest of my house-hold staff.”
“Good, then. I suppose that means you’re doing something right for once,” François said examining the nails on his hand. He had a way of talking that made you feel inadequate, which he had learned from his father.
Carton tentatively sat down.
“One day they are all going to get sick of us and revolt.” René looked bored.
“Oh seriously. They’ll be too busy trying to find food,” here he laughed, “to be able to do anything about it.” He added his name to the paper with a flourish and handed the pen to his son. François added his name and passed the pen to Jean who signed and handed it to Carton, who dropped it. All four of them stared at the pen.
“Well, interesting,” murmured Jean. “Do we have a sympathizer?” He looked up at Carton, his voice suddenly very cold. “I suggest you sign the paper, or I have a feeling you won’t like what happens next.” He narrowed his eyes and Carton grabbed the pen, dipped it in ink, signed, then dropped the pen like it burned. His face showed no emotion.
Jean smiled cruelly. “Now for the next order of business…” The rest of the meeting became a blur to Carton as he thought about what he had done.