Friday, 2 November 2007

The story ends and all is explained..almost..

If you will recall back we left Madame Grognonne , Loic disguised as the widow, the widow dressed as a woman of ill repute, Jacques frail farmhand and Antoine attired as a sardine gutter, for no apparent reason, at the entrance to Chateau Loufoque. We thus continue to the story’s end, its culmination pieced together from the accounts of all involved.

Arriving then at dawn to be met by the over excited pigs ,no longer confined to the pantry and greedily devouring the hydrangeas, our hearty heroes knew, without doubt, that something was a miss Chez Loufoque. Leaving Jacques and the widow to unravel Loic’s artificial leg from the sacking, Antoine leapt from the cart to unravel the mystery. Sadly this was not all that he unravelled, catching, as he did his petticoats and slipping face first into the festering fish guts. With help from Madame Grognonne, and unperturbed by the awful offal, he drew his cloak around him and pulled up his hood the better to scrub off the sticky sardine scales adhering to his skin, and a good job too for otherwise he would have certainly have come off far worse when he slipped on the pig excrement, as he descended from the cart, their recent meal of hydrangeas obviously not agreeing with their digestion.

The crash of his clattering of his clogs alarming the pigs and no doubt alerting whoever was in the house to his arrival there was now little point in attempting to sneak up on them unawares. He marched onwards then boldly towards the kitchen.
Thrusting open the door, whilst at the same time being careful not to smear the brass handle only recently polished by Madame Grognonne, his eyes smarting from the reek of his fouled clothing, Antoine could see nothing in the darkness save a lone figure at the table. He moved forward to demand the interloper identity themselves only to find his voice hoarse and unfamiliar no doubt from his sleeping open mouthed on a cold night in an open cart. Spying chief Patissier’s decanter of best cognac on the table, he raised his arm to grasp it, intending to rescue it from the thieving hands of that unidentified figure at the table and hoping the restorative liquid might sooth his throat.

However he found, due to the rigidity of the whalebone corset he was wearing, he was unable to lower his arm again, his stays having been rather battered out of shape by his tumble from the tumbrel and he had the unpleasant sensation of something hard and sharp threatening to penetrate his person should he attempt to lower his limb. This was not a risk he was willing to take. In his discomfort he barely had time to give the figure at the table at the table a second thought for in the instant he realized he had been harpooned by his whalebone another figure entered the room, one whom he instantly recognized and at whom he rushed with relief, for if there is any man in the world skilled and experienced in the art of releasing Antoine from the confines of a woman’s corsets this is he! However before he can reach his saviour and seek succour the figure at the table shrieks and slumps in a most ladylike manner as only a person of her breeding and natural poise can do.

Here then is all made clear. The mysterious spectre at the kitchen door is none other than Antoine and here are Antoine’s filching thieves, none other than Chief Patissier and his dear and charming wife Un Peu Loufoque. A rush of relief is felt by all.

Madame Grognonne, stout in limb and heart , hoists her mistress from the floor and carries her off to her chamber to recover her composure and repose in peace. Chief Patissier releases Antoine from his confining corsets and washes away the smell of sardines outside in an as oil drum as off old , a fire is lit and a hearty breakfast is prepared by the widow. Stories are exchanged and tales of intrigue and woe. Chief Patissier tells Antoine briefly about his abortive friendship with Lawrence and Antoine recounts tales of his carousing with the local cleric. All is put right over a shared meal and a few restorative cognacs. Upstairs, sitting in the sunlight, Madame Grognonne silently watches over her mistress sleeping whilst she silently polished her gun and ponders upon life.

But what of the Gendarme? What fate has befallen him?

Only Time will tell, and time, as ever, is in no haste to do so.
The engraving above purports to depict the rather touching departure of the local cleric shortly after the the conclusion of the events described above. Some say he left to seek his fortune in Vannes where he worked as a missionary to sailors , others that he chose a life of penitence as a hermit on one of the small islands off the coast of Cape Breton. Some tell tales that he was called upon by a mysterious visitor, late one night ,accompanied by a person disguised as a sardine gutter, and that what happened at that meeting caused him to see the error of his ways. Truth is an elusive creature, but all that is certain is that he left the commune and was never seen again, and that the night of his departure the shrine to Loic and his miraculous limb was secretly dismantled and the money collected from it was found all neatly stored in a coffer in the clerics kitchen with a note donating it to the restoration of the church tower.


Frances said...

Bon jour,

Ah, well of course. It all makes such sense now, everything is so clear, so tidy, so peaceful. Our long wait has been richly rewarded.

However, can this peace, tidiness and clarity be maintained? Should it be? Perhaps, no?


lampworkbeader said...

And did they all live happily ever after?

Suffolkmum said...

Hmmm - I love the way the story is coming to a perfect close - but as lampworkbeader says - is it really???

Pondside said...

Obviously a morality tale....or a mortality tale.....or a tale of morals and the perfidy of men....the loyalty of widowed retainers....the folly of feeding hydrangeas to pigs.....? So much to digest, and yet one is left, oddly, wanting more.

sally's chateau said...

Back in the fold of the Loufoque household I cannot believe that harmony will reign for too long, especially with Mme Grognonne polishing the gun !!

Fennie said...

About five weeks ago, when the Ankou tumbril was still trundling through the dark lanes of cauliflower county, you asked me if I had guessed who it was yet? However, could I? I cannot understand Midsomer Murders, let alone a plot of this fiendish complexity, though I did think that the cloaked figure from the charnel house carried a species of scythe and it was the sight and size of the figure's weapon that made you faint. I claim I was misled, like one of the Perdus.

Anyway, we are left with the widow. Jeanne d'Arme obviously, for one must account somehow for the feminine attire, though I have a feeling that the obligatory moustache won't suit. First though I feel the party should sit down to a hearty breakfast of sausages (it is only what the pigs deserve after the hydrangea episode) and eggs. If you can persuade the redoubtable Mde Grognonne to loose off a round or to in the porcine direction, we might all get cooking.

LittleBrownDog said...

Oooh - what a brilliant denouemont (sp?). Can't imagine what the fates may hold in store for Mme Grognonne.

@themill said...

Madame Grognonne with a gun does not reassure of a happy ending.

Grouse said...

So Darling Lawrence has been aborted! Mon Dieu!!!!! Whatever has he done to deserve such a fate! I thought he was so dashing! Well at least Madame G.doesnt allow minor incidents such as this to deter her from her gun cleaning.....we know too well what might result from a blocked barrel......

CAMILLA said...

Bonjour Un Peu,

Apologies for not visiting sooner, trying to catch up.

Heck! Madame Grognonne polishing her gun, will pigs have an ill fate, Hydranga's consumed and all, what chilling thoughts surround Madame Grognonne's head.

How is the book going by the way Un Peu?


CAMILLA said...

P.S Congratulations on your Awards, very richly deserved.


Pipany said...

Brilliant! Trying to catch up and failing miserably - think i need tio pip over to France fOR A CUP OF Tea and an explanaition (*any excuse!!!) xxx