Posts Tagged ‘The French Revolution’

“Mlle Duchamps”, a very short story

April 28, 2012

Blue Flute over on d’ has come up with a prompt for writers, poets to post on their blogs a vampire poem, narrative, story, etc.

A few years ago, I wrote “Mlle Duchamps”, my only vampire piece of work.  Others do it so much better. However, this is published in my first book “A Seasoning of Lust”  ( in a slightly longer version.

Sex and vampirism seem to be coupled, and this has a very little soupcon of sexual behavior in this short story.  Just a mild warning.

Lady Nyo

“Mlle Duchamps” 

Many years ago there was an elderly gentleman who lived along with his invalid daughter Marie, in the Vercors region of France, near the Swiss Alps. Comte d’Epinay was impoverished, due to the death of so many relatives by Madame Guillotine, and the taxation upon those of the aristocracy who managed to keep their heads.

For a while, Comte d’Epinay was addressed as “Citizen d’Epinay”, but the country folk reverted to M d’Epinay, and an uneasy peace existed.  M d’Epinay lived without the luxuries of his youth in a decaying house, too small to be considered a chateau and too large for economy.  The roofs leaked, the fireplaces could benefit from a good cleaning, but beyond a shotgun blast up the chimneys every few years, there was little improvement in the draw. The tiles tumbled off the roofs with the Mistral, which swept down the Alps and did much damage.  It was locally held that anyone who went mad with the sounds of the wind would be pardoned of their crimes.

The household staff had dwindled to a housekeeper and a steward, M and Mme Pennay, leftovers from the ancien re’gime along with Mme Fournard, who was the governess for Marie d’Epiney.  Social visits had diminished in the early years after the Terror, even this far removed from Paris.  Gone were the parties and fetes of M d’Epinay’s early marriage, and gone was his wife.  She had grown feeble with each packet of news from the capitol, and finally one morning, was found stiff and cold in her bed.  It was said Madame had died of grief for her beloved France.  The locals thought otherwise, but as isolated people do, they believed evil had blown down from the mountains and played a hand in all misfortunes in the countryside.

This part of France was prey to all kinds of superstition and haunts.  If a cow stopped giving her rich milk and gave a watery stream, it was the hand of a witch.  If a flock of chickens started eating their eggs, it was because a malevolent spirit haunted a farmer’s house.

The spring came early and with it the rains.  Each day, Marie d’Epinay would limp her way around the bedroom, and holding onto the chairs and sofa, she would make her way slowly to the big window that gave her the outside world. Mlle d’Epinay’s governess had grown to be a companion, for her charge was now in her twenties. Mme Fournard was herself almost elderly, a woman whose life had passed her by in the service of the d’Epinay child. 

“ Marie!”  Mme Fournard had come into the room and saw her charge leaning on the windowsill, staring out at the pouring rain. “Marie, come away from the window, ma cherie.  The cold from this rain will make you sick.”

Marie’s usual thought passed across her mind when Mme started her scolding.  “How much sicker will I become before death takes me away?”  But this of course she did not impart to her governess.  Mme Fournard was deeply religious, or superstitious, and to Marie’s thinking, there was little difference.  Perhaps it was the loneliness of her days spent in dank rooms with a book in hand that created such cynicism in Mlle.

One late afternoon, in a heavy downpour, there was a long knocking at the door.  The housekeeper, grumbling at the impatience of the knocker, hurried to answer.  A man was standing there on the steps with water running off his hat, and in his arms a bundle. Without a word, the man entered. The housekeeper, of course, would not deny him entrance in such weather.

“Thank you, Madame.  We have been traveling from the east and our carriage has overturned on the road. Mlle Duchamp has been injured and your house was the only one I could see in this rain.  Please forgive the intrusion.”

The knocking drew the household, M d’Epinay amongst them.  “Mme Fournard, please help Mme Pennay, take this young woman to a bed.” M d’Epinay was a gracious soul. His own lack of fortune would never turn his heart cold to the distressed.

When Mlle Duchamp was deposited in a bed, and the man had withdrawn to the warm kitchen, Mme Fournard opened the blanket and saw an almost lifeless young woman.  She had drab red hair, made worse by the rain, such pale skin that there was no bloom of life, and a breast that barely rose.  Stripping her garments, the two women noticed she had  signs of extreme malnourishment. Her ribs stuck out painfully and her skin was translucent.   She appeared to be in her twenties, but she could have been older.  It was impossible to tell due to her present condition.

Over the course of a few days Mlle Duchamp regained consciousness but remained very weak regardless good broth and simples applied to her lips.  The man who had brought her went out in the pouring rain and was never seen again.  No trace of a carriage was found later on the road, for M.d’Epinay sent men out to help put things to right.

Mlle d’Epinay heard from her governess of the guest in the next bedroom.  She was curious to see the girl. She had a key to the adjoining bedroom, and when Mme Fournard was down in the kitchen or somewhere in the house, she would unlock the door between the rooms and would make her way slowly into the bedroom, lurching from chair to table, and finally to the bedside.  Usually the woman was asleep, muttering in a deep dream. Today she was awake but motionless. 

“You are finally awake! Bon!  I am Marie d’Epinay, this is my father’s house.  I am glad to see that you have recovered.”

The young woman before her struggled to focus her eyes and a small smile formed on her lips.

“I am so cold, Mlle. I am so cold.  Come to me and keep me warm.”

Marie did not see any reason to refuse this poor woman, and went down beside her, over the top of the blankets.  She gingerly put her arms around the woman and felt the bones of her shoulders.  Louise Duchamp, for that was her Christian name, sighed sweetly, and the two of them fell into sleep.  They awoke later that afternoon, both refreshed and talking and this is how Mme Fournard found them, when she came with a tray for Mlle Duchamp. 

It was true the house was cold and damp, and remained that way until the heat of the summer, so Mme Fournard did not have any immediate objection to the two young women taking a nap together.  She had a servant stoke up the fire and propped upon pillows, both women would read aloud to each other, and both sets of cheeks seemed to color with some health.

Marie would sleep in her own room during the night, but insisted Mme Fournard leave the adjoining door open so she could hear the sighs of her now dear Louise.

One night Marie awoke in the darkness and gasped in fright.  It was only Louise standing there over her, as if sleepwalking.  Pulling back the covers Marie beckoned for Louise to join her, for the spring was a long and wet one and the rooms still damp.  Louise lay down on her pillow, wrapping her arms around Marie.  She drew her close, and kissed her shoulder, travelling with little kisses down the virginal breast of Marie.  At first Marie stiffened in her arms, then relaxed, for surely Louise was dreaming and could not know what she was doing. Louise found a soft nipple through Marie’s nightgown and started to suckle.  Marie, surprised, felt a tremor travel from her breast down her body. She gave a little moan and Louise smiled, stopped and fell back asleep.

After that, Louise would visit Marie and when the stillness of the house was complete and nothing disturbed the absolute silence except the moaning of the wind outside, she would fasten her lips upon Marie’s breast.  She would suck and nibble, and Marie would moan.  When Marie awoke in the morning, Louise was asleep in her own bed, the roses in her cheeks showing her recovery.  Marie remembered nothing unusual, except a strange, continuing dream that left her languid far into the morning.

After that, Louise brought another game to their night time hours. Pain. At first she would bite a little of Marie’s lips, and when Marie jumped, she would apply her lips and tongue to the long white neck of Marie..  Each night, Louise would increase the pain just a little, and Marie looked forward to the pain because in her mind it became mixed with the extreme pleasure Louise imparted.  More and more pain, and then the resulting pleasure. Marie’s lips became bloody and tender,  her swan-white neck mottled with bruises, but that a small sacrifice for the ecstasy she felt.  Their play touched Louise too, for her pale and sallow skin had more bloom, obviously due to the great devotion she had for Marie.

That morning a carriage appeared at the door. Louise Duchamp was downstairs tying her bonnet. She was smiling at herself in the large glass in the hall. She looked radiant, her red hair curled and bright, her complexion glowing, her green eyes gleaming with secrets. A restored beauty and Mme Fournard quite amazed with the young woman she was watching at the bottom of the stairs. She hadn’t thought Mlle Duchamp would recover, much less to such an extent!

“Oh, Madame, you should check on Mlle d’Epinay.  I thought her a bit restless during the night, but when I looked, she was fine.  Perhaps a nightmare?”

Mme Fournard agreed and climbed the stairs.  Soon a loud scream erupted from upstairs, followed by a piteous moan. At the same instant, Mlle Duchamp blew a kiss at her reflection, walked out the front door and was helped into the carriage.

Marie d’Epinay was dead, pale as a ghost in her bed, and Louise Duchamp was never again seen in the Vercors region of France.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010, 2012

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