The far away colony Chapter 6
The far away colony
Once the foreigner disappeared in the forest, Charles Deschamps went to the back of his house and looked for some stacked wood.
Half an hour later he was cutting wood when Julie appeared in the courtyard.
“Oh, finally, here you are back”, said the father, “you couldn't have imagined how worried we were about you.”
“Good morning, father, I am really sorry. I don't want to hurt you”.
“Your mother is dying from anxiety about you.”
“Fabien knows I left to find a job. Didn't he tell you anything?”
“You should have told us yourself. Usually you never go away for so long without giving some news.”
“You would have never let me go alone. Where's mom? I have some good news to announce you.”
“She left for the church with Fabien and Yvette. They will surely pass by the cemetery to bring some flowers and make a prayer for the dead. Go inside and serve yourself something to drink and eat. You must be tired for having traveled so long.”
“Look. I brought a turkey and a bottle of wine. Guess what we are going to celebrate?”
“You have lots of things to tell us, I suppose. So have some rest while I finish cutting these wood pieces. When we'll be all reunited you will tell us everything in detail.”
Julie entered into the house and looked with sadness the old cheap furniture which didn't worth much compared to those she had seen in the houses she worked. She led a life without stories until the day in which some deplorable events made her understand she could finish her existence in misery if she didn't react. The adventure without precedent she had at her last mistress' made her carry on her back a tease's reputation. Her life was tormented in such a way that if she hadn't had a strong spirit and her family's support she would have sunk into depression a long time ago.
It happened while she was working as a cleaner at Mrs Blondet, austere wife of a prosperous settler from the region. When her presence started to turn her little bosses heads, Mrs Blondet, who kept an eye on everything, didn't take long time to react and found it appropriate to fire her before things degraded and the young sons of the nobility started to loose their head for a servant. Julie didn't do anything wrong to deserve such a horrible treatment and to support so many slanders on her fragile back. Mrs Blondet's foresight, her strictness, didn't give her the time to reflect nor to know more than she thought she understood. She didn't even raise discussions or look for explanations to be sure whether those judgments were good or not. She referred to the old adage that said it's better to prevent than to cure. She wanted to live transparently and preferred to rule out the doubts, to dissipate them by every possible mean, without thinking on the consequences. She hadn't put up with such a humiliation and even if she didn't feel guilty with the situation, she didn't have a way to defend herself. She was so hurt by the unjustified reproaches that she was covered by an inexpressible shame. When she had to leave the house with her head swollen, she didn't imagine she would have left behind her a despoiled image or that impression that puts her among the undesirable figures. She would have had recourse to time to get up from the situation and to understand that the only solution was to never loose her courage.
Charles Deschamps, who was approaching fifty, was taking it out on the dry and strong woods obtained from the High's tamarind trees. He was sweating streams because of the heat and his skin shined with the burning sun. His hard face shown he had struggled in the misery for a long time. He was the offspring of an alcoholic mother and a violent father who used to pass the most part of his life in prison. He grew up in life conditions similar to what Dickens tells us in his novels. He met Pauline when he was young and was living with an aunt who didn't give him affection but who instilled education in him. Pauline succeeded at making him lead the existence of a man conscious of his responsibility and his duty. She provided him with home pleasures and gave him a child every year, which attached him to the household. He didn't have a stable job and accepted to do a little bit of everything to earn his living and feed his family. He was often constrained to move to work in the far away neighborhoods where his family had to follow him. Times got harder and sometimes he didn't work. He decided to find a place where he could organize his life, raise his kids and take care of his wife. An old and decrepit construction, built during the colonial period, attracted his attention when a rich owner hired him as a gamekeeper. His task consisted in watching over several hectares of land used for farming and animal herding. He was in the habit of crossing the region accompanied by a dog and preventing intruders to commit crimes. Many persons without scruples plundered the farmings and stole the animals. Charles Deschamps had once encountered his boss in the woods during a rough weather period when the night was approaching and he accompanied him up to his house by lighting the road with a lantern. The conversation the two men held had been enough to allow the employee to obtain his master's agreement to move into the old house abandoned in the wood. Charles Deschamps settled in the house with his family. The stone walls have resisted to the violent winds that used to cause damages during the hot season.
Julie was standing quiet close to the window to contemplate a picture in which appeared her two sisters, who were married to military men and had left the country. she remembered the way she spent her childhood with them. This picture held back in her mind a crowd of memories that made her feel sad but reassured when she imagined they should be happy with their husbands in a far away country where life was interesting.
The sun was high in the sky when Julien's voice resounded in the distance. Julie wanted to stay in the house to reserve them the surprise but the wish to see them again made her exit as fast as possible and run to join them.
“Oh Lord, my daughter? I am so happy to see you again. If only you knew how much I prayed to God to protect you. Finally, here you are, my daughter, safe and sound. But where have you been all this time? I haven't slept a wink these last nights, so much I was worried about you.”
“I am really sorry, Mom,” said Julie while hugging her mother and holding her strongly in her arms. I also had you in my thoughts. How are you? Your rheumatism is not making you suffer too much, I hope? And Yvette, my little sister, don't pull that face. Come close to me. Fabien, you know I didn't forget you. I brought a nice present for you.”
Julie kept talking while putting her arms around her brother and sister's shoulders. When they reached the father near the well, Julie said:
“I found a job with a wealthy and generous family. I've finished my first week and I am happy. The bosses are really nice with me and I am already getting accustomed to the members of the family. I've got my pay and I intend to celebrate it with my family. Dad would light the fire and Mom would cook the turkey we are going to taste with rice and vegetables. What about having some fun? Uncle Jacques would be glad to squeeze his ravanne chords and sing a good sega-maloya for us.
She took out from her radiant and new bag the rest of her wages and gave it to her mother:
“Here you have, Mom. Take this money. You will need it to bye some medicine and for your unexpected expenses.”
“I would rather keep this money for your trousseaux. This way, when you will marry you will lack very little. Find a good husband and set up home. Your father earns enough our living.”
“How much does he have to kill himself working at his age, mother? This house is not suitable. You have to think about improving your life conditions. You are not going to finish your existence in this hovel. This village hasn't any attraction. It's time for you to go live in a town.”
“I understand you very well, my daughter, but we have no intention to leave this place. We feel very well here. Some persons came the other day to see your father and propose him to put up a distillery. Also, I have to tell you that the lands are on sale and that a notary clerk passed by to ask your father if he was interested in buying a plot.”
“Are you counting on buying a ground? But where are you going to find the money?”
“We have no intention of throwing in the towel. We want to fight to escape from misery. We are used to cultivate the land and to raise animals. It's the only thing we know how to do. We would feel lost everywhere else and we don't want to be at the other's mercy. We have learnt to live with dignity even if we have very little. We have saved some money at the price of enormous sacrifices because we have thought of our kids. We don't want to leave this world without leaving you something that allows you to live. We are going to employ that money to buy some hectares of land to farm. When we won't be here anymore, you would have a living.”
“If that's your intention, how couldn't I feel touched? I always knew you took care of us like a mother concerned on the future of her kids. May God help you to fulfill your desires. Let me help you buying those lands. I also work to give support to my family. I would be glad to participate in the commitment you are going to make and to help you.”
“Your intentions are good. God Bless you my daughter. Your father has an appointment with the notary. He's going to get acquaintance with the proposals they are going to offer him and then we're going to see in which way we can proceed with the purchase of this plot of land. We will keep you informed when the modes would be decided.
Julie wanted to go out from the kitchen full of smoke to contemplate the surroundings. She had the impression to breath an air that belonged to her. She had never before felt such an emotion and such a pride for being in possession of a land plot she could dispose of as she wanted. She admired with her gaze the lower nooks, noticing every single object of important value. She looked at the cryptomerias, the tamarind trees from the highs, the eucalyptus with the extremely long leaves, the ficus and the varieties of palm trees. Those species were only a part of the tropical flora added to the richness of the natural scenery.