“I do not understand, Maman,” I said, pushing my lip out petulantly, “Why must I stay here with Papa? He….” my eyes stung with the reality that my mother was leaving to journey for several months to her homeland and she was not taking me.”
With an exasperated sigh, she laid aside the garment she had just removed from her closet and placed it on the bed. Before the maid could pick it up and fold it for her, my mother gave a gesture indicating that the young woman leave us alone. With a stiff curtsy, the pinch-faced girl, whom I only knew as Isabel, wordlessly left the room, closing the door behind her.
As soon as she was certain we were alone, my mother sat down on the edge of the bed and patted the space beside her. I dragged my feet and slowly sat next to her, my eyes stung no less and my lip had not retreated in the slightest in spite of this impromptu concession. “Françoise,” she began, “I have already promised you, I will send for you soon.,” she began, “but for now, I need you to understand. There is too much at stake in my homeland. Your father will be absorbed in the business, and you have Elise, oui?” Maman raised my chin with gentle fingertips.”
“My heart hurts, Maman,” I said, “I feel as if something terrible is going to happen and I have no idea what it is. Please say you will stay.”