Change of Scenery
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.
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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