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Change of Scenery

by Dreamer 

Posted: 12 May 2010
Word Count: 476
Summary: For the change of scenery challenge. Set at the end of the French and Indian War, 1760.

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The ship sways at anchor just off the quay, its sails furled. The Auguste, like everything here it seems, once French, is now English. A merchant ship captured on the high seas, now become an English privateer hired to transport its former masters into exile. Boats row to and fro, carrying the worldly treasure of those forced to convert their possessions into what hard currency they can obtain. Heroes like Lévis and rogues like Bigot, the valiant and the villainous, all are to be deported to France.
The surrounding hills are clothed in red and gold. The nip of winter is in the air. It was a fall two years ago that Saint Simon said we would drop the English like the red leaves from the trees before the snows, yet it was we who were felled upon the field and we who are mouldering in the grave while redcoats parade in the Place d’Armes and man the city walls.
Tears fill my eyes as I watch Saint Luc de la Corne, ‘Le Générale des Indiens’, and his family meekly take their places in the waiting boats. Will there be anyone left? The world I have come to know will soon be nothing but a memory. What will become of the land and the people left behind?
Frederick approaches carrying his rucksack and stares in silence at the boat pulling away from the quay. We have already discussed and argued long into the night on which road to take; to stay or to go, a fool’s errand or a coward’s escape. There is nothing left to say.
Without warning, Frederick reaches into his rucksack and holds out a small rectangular package wrapped in deerskin. “Here. For you.”
“But I have nothing for you.”
He places the package in my hands and puts his palm on my shoulder. “With the sacrifice of your silver jetton you gave me my life. That is something I can never repay and will never forget.” He shrugs. “Besides, it’s nothing. Just something I no longer have a use for. Take it.”
I carefully unwrap the package and start at the familiar contents. “But! This is your book!? I thought you lost it. I have not seen it since we arrived in Quebec.”
Frederick looks away. “My heart is no longer in it.”
“But, it isn’t finished. What of Diderot and his Cyclops?”
“Encyclopaedia.” Frederick corrects, “You finish it.”
“Me? It is you that sees beauty where I see only danger.”
Frederick pauses, watching as a Scottish soldier strolls by, hand in hand with a habitant. He sighs. “Under the English this world will no longer be the same.” He shields his eyes and looks up at the citadel with its foreign flag fluttering in the breeze. “A sunset looks much the same as a sunrise, yet they have entirely different meanings.”

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Comments by other Members

tusker at 06:56 on 13 May 2010  Report this post
I really enjoyed this Brian.

Wonderful description. I could feel their despair.

Loved: A sunset looks much the same as a sunrise, yet they have entirely different meanings.'


Dreamer at 13:25 on 15 May 2010  Report this post
Thanks Jennifer, I was pleased with that line. It's so true.



Prospero at 10:03 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Ah yes, a fine piece of writing, Brian. And very appropriate to the Challenge. Well done.



Cholero at 10:29 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Hi Brian

A moment in history caught in lovely symbolism in the form of that unfinished book. Nice scene-setting and clear characters.



Dreamer at 12:24 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Thanks John,

I know you have already seen this, but I thought that it fit and would be one more for your group.



Dreamer at 12:25 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Hi Pete,

Thanks for the positive comments. Glad you enjoyed it.



Crimsondelilah at 12:55 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Oh Brian, I thought this was beautiful. When I read the summary I was expecting blood and gore - which you write very well, but this was so different, an epic tale, told through the lens of sympathetic characters. It is achingly sad. You really convey the dejection of these men as they realise their world has forever changed and the uncertainty they fell about what the future holds. The image of the unfinished book is quite haunting - the man who sees beauty where others don't is the one to lose hope completely. Really nicely done. I'm really intrigued by your book now.

Dreamer at 13:18 on 16 May 2010  Report this post
Hi Margaret,

So pleased that you like it.

This is actually a segment from the last chapter of the book. Frederick had started the novel full of wonder at the New World and the customs of its Native inhabitants. The MC, Gontier, saw nothing beautiful here and regarded the natives as savages who only waited for an opportunity to scalp him. He spends most of the novel wishing he were back in France.
By the end, all has changed. Gontier has gained a respect and admiration for the natives. In fact, he has fallen in love with a native girl. Frederick on the other hand is disillusioned and elects to return to France. Tragically, the 'Auguste' flounders and sinks on the first leg of its journey.

Now, all I have to do is finish the middle bit of the novel!



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