Chapter 3 – Don't tell anyone! (1/2)

Lysette closed the large book and kissed her doll good-night. She liked reading fairy-tales to her dolls. Even though Marie said what she was doing was not real reading. For that she would have to learn the letters first, which she would in a year or so. A really long time – but Lysette didn't bother, as she was not sure yet whether she really wanted to learn it at all. Her books had beautiful pictures, and the stories she "read" to her dolls were quite different from those Marie read to her using the very same book. Her nanny's stories were always the same, but there were just so many things more to be told about the beautiful princess who had been sleeping in the rose grove. About the fairies, the good ones and the wicked one. What were they doing, when not going to banquets at the king's and the queen's palace? Marie was never able to answer those questions. But maybe that was normal. After all Marie was a grown-up like all the others. They often did not see the most obvious things. Only good, that Lysette could explain it all to her. She just had to look at the pictures and there she could see it all.

"Play a little," Marie had said to her a bit earlier. "I will be right back. And if you are a good girl, your brother will come to see you then." At this Lysette had readily agreed to be a good girl and to wait. They were in Lysette's little play-house in the garden. It was like a real house, but with everything in Lysette's size. She could understand that Marie did not find it very comfortable to sit on those little chairs. But now she was taking a little long.

"I know I have not finished yet," she told Marjorie, the doll with the chestnut-coloured curls. "But that is so you can look forward to hearing how it will go on tomorrow." She had heard Marie say that so often. Just like right now, before she had suddenly stopped.

Lysette could hear voices outside now. Marie's voice and … her heart made a leap … Jules! She jumped up from her chair, wanting to run out to welcome them, but then she remembered that a lady was never allowed to loose her countenance and she wanted her brother to be proud of her. So she sat down again and decided to pretend she had not heard them. Certainly they would come in just a moment. But she waited and waited … and they were taking awfully long. What did they have to talk about out there in such hushed voices? She decided that as long as nobody could see her anyway, good manners were not quite so important.

"Don't tell anyone, Marjorie," she whispered. "Do you understand?" But she was sure Marjorie would not tattle.

She pushed one of the little chairs to the window, careful to have her face covered in the lace curtain, and looked outside through the finely stitched ornaments. She could see Jules and Marie standing out there under a tree. Jules still had his hand in that white bandage. Lysette was almost glad about his accident now. He had been quite unwell after that, they said, which she was of course very sorry about. But the doctor had ordered him not to work that much and to take walks and breath a lot of fresh air. Lysette liked that. She saw him much more often these days. Though he spent much more time then she would have liked talking to Marie. And they had lots of grown-up-people-things to talk about it seemed. How it must be boring to be as old as they were!

"What is it?" she could hear Jules now. "Why are you being so secretive about this? As if we were not doing all of this in secret anyway."

Marie bashfully averted her eyes and began picking imaginary flings of dust from the white sleeve of her blouse.

"It is not about us," she said then, looking up at Jules again. Now her voice became so low that Lysette could barely hear her. "It is about the girl."

"The girl?" He raised his eyebrows and Lysette tried to get her ear closer to the open window then it was already.

Marie nodded frantically. "It is her who found you after your accident. Not me. I told them I heard the shot – which is also true – but when it sounded, we were already in front of your door. Lysette knew it somehow, already before it happened, she was just playing as usual and then … it was so strange … like a seizure of some kind, she stared into nothingness and then fell from her chair …." Marie's words came very fast. It seemed they had been there all the time since then, just waiting to burst out. " …. And then she opened her eyes, crying for you. I have never seen her like this. She is usually such a well-behaved child but that time she just broke away from me ... She knew it. I don't know how – she just did. But – what is most important, she has saved your life. I thought you should know that."

Marie was now holding Jules' good hand in both of hers. For a moment they just looked at each others and Jules did not say anything. He just looked at Marie, frowning. And then he laughed. Lysette bit her lips. She had actually expected him to come to her and give her a hug because she had saved his life. Even if she wasn't so sure herself how she had actually done it. Suddenly she had seen Jules and lots of blood and she had been awfully scared.

"You don't believe me?" Marie sounded upset now. Lysette had always thought that Marie never was angry. That she could not be.

"I am a hysterical woman. That's what you are thinking. And too much in company of a little girl and her fairy-tale books."

At this Jules loosened his hand from her's, gently brushing his fingers over her cheek.

"Did I say I did not believe you?" he asked her in a soft voice. "I did not say any of that. I just find it hard to believe."

"I would too, if I had not been there myself!" she replied in an imploring voice. "I have no reason to not believe it. And if you trusted me, then you'd see I am speaking the truth!"

He looked at her, seeming a bit at a loss himself.

"Don't tell anyone", he said after a while, his face very serious now. "My father would not believe any of it of course, but the servants … they like to talk... You probably know even better then I do, how the mechanisms of rumours work among them. I guess there has been too much talk about this misfortune already."

"Of course I won't mention a thing to anyone," she assured him. "You are the only one I have told."

"And make sure the child does not talk about it either."

"She won't," Marie promised. "And if she does, they won't believe her. I rubbed the thermometer in my fingers, so everyone believed she was feverish, and when Doctor Laforet examined her he also said she was nervous and agitated, because of the circumstances of finding you."

Lysette listened to them with growing disappointment. She was not able to understand every word they were saying, but what she understood least of all was, why it was so bad she had known about Jules being in danger? Hadn't this been very useful? After all Marie had said that it had been good they had found him so soon, so he could get help. Marie had put her into her bed after that, saying she was ill, when she in fact wasn't and the doctor had given her some yucky medicine.

"I have to go now," Jules said after they had exchanged a few more words that seemed quite pointless to Lysette.

"There are going to be guests tonight and I am feeling a little tired right now. I think I should get some rest, if I want to get through this." From the tone of his voice Lysette could guess those visitors must be someone he did not really like. She felt sorry for that, and also that Jules still did not seem to feel so well today. She wanted to comfort him. Try to make him feel better. She always felt so happy when she saw him. Wouldn't this also work for him as well, when he saw her?

"I promised the girl you would come. She has been looking forward to it all day."

At this a genuine smile appeared on his face. "Of course I will see her", he said. This was consolation enough for Lysette. She sat down in her little rocking chair with her book and waited patiently for them to enter the house. She knew her brother would never let her down.