A story written for a creative writing lesson (kids, don’t take lessons, they ruin your fun)
As her head hit the basket two things flashed in her mind. One, she had been beheaded for the wrong reason, two they could have used a cleaner basket.
The revolution hadn’t quite ventured to the more rural parts of France. Some towns had barely crawled out of the dark ages. Blois had been a prominent hold in the past, a city of note for the future, but for now, forgotten. The Chateaux de Blois dominated over the peasants and their simple lives. Due to the lack of hygiene and drainage it was more revolting than revolut-ing. They had their routines however, and every Sunday at one o’clock the Count would ride out of the Chateaux gates and into the city, with fifteen guards. On horseback nowadays as the memories of having both his silk shoes sucked off by mud still haunted him. This didn’t bode well for his waistline, the buttons of his tailcoat had been threatening to break for freedom for the past month. One more cake and the lowest button would take someone’s eye out. The peasants of the city were ordered to line the paths with their precious linen and aprons, covering over the offending pot holes, mud and poo. They were also ordered to cheer, the best they could do was a mumbled sigh. The count would grace them in full regalia. Painted white face, bouffant wig, and a silk cape skillfully draped over his left shoulder.
Alberte, the drunk, had been up since 4am digging a hole. It was a nice hole. Not too wide and not too deep, almost perfect as holes go. No one knew he covered it over with his soiled bedsheet until the Count’s horse took a nosedive into it, followed swiftly by the Count. All the guards horses and all the guard men, spooked from the commotion, cantered off in different directions and the peasants flocked to the hole, surrounded the Count and gasped and coo-d. Marie was so close she could touch him. And she did, repeatedly. His wig powder flying in the air and onto her face, making her sneeze. The Count was cowering and yelping, dirty fingers grabbing and fondling every part of him. Marie found herself reaching for something shiny and gold. A pocket watch. It was covered in diamonds and jewels she had never seen before. She thought it witchcraft and gingerly put the watch back into the Counts pocket as the guards started jabbing and poking everyone out the way. Marie was shoved into the mud, her backside landing on something hard. There was a wary silence as the Count frantically raised himself and spluttered obscenities at the ground, his men, the peasants, the hole and his horse. No one dared move until the Count and guards had all remounted and trotted back to the Chateaux.
Marie stayed sat in the mud while everyone dispersed. Alberte had started giggling manically and tore away his now shredded bedcover, pointing at his beautiful hole while glaring at Marie and howling
‘Révolution! Révolution! Révolution! Liberté, Egalité, Fraterité!’
Shuffling backwards Marie started pulling herself up when suddenly Alberte screamed
‘The money, the money, what is this! We have a bourgeoisie hiding among us! She lays money like a hen!’
There was a pouch between her legs, blue silk and lace, with coins tumbling into the mud.
‘She’s a witch!’ Shouted Albete
A crowd started forming once again and Marie was in the same position the Count was moments earlier, although much richer. In the kerfuffle the Count’s purse had fallen from his belt.
‘She has the powder of the rich on her!’ shouted one, blowing on her face, the Count’s face powder floating in the air
‘Ohhh, look, she has a wart’ shouted another as they poked and pulled Marie
Suddenly the ring leader, Alberte started dancing around the crowd screaming
‘Burn her! Burn her! Witch Witch Witch!’
‘But she is bourgeois! She must be beheaded, it’s all the rage in Paris. My uncle told me’ said Jacq, one of the more enlightened of the cityfolk.
‘Off with her head, off with her head’ they started to chant, lathering themselves up in a mudded frenzy.
The crowd lifted Marie to her feet, off her feet and above their heads before she could even burble about the pocket watch.
The Chateaux had the only guillotine in the city, typically reserved for tried prisoners and the occasional mistress. The foaming peasants marched Marie to the gates, roaring and cheering over Marie’s innocent hollars. The count, happily lying in his swan neck bath after disrobing from his sodden clothes, heard the commotion outside and leaped up to look out the window, loofah grasped in his right hand, his jewels in the other.
‘They want to borrow the guillotine’ his guard shouted. ‘They have a bag of coins and the accused seems to be screaming about a pocket watch’
‘They said they’ve got the money to pay for it’
‘They’re all mad, all mad’ muttered the Count, peering out the window ‘That’s… that’s my purse! Roll the guillotine out to them and get my money!’
As the Count sank himself back into his iron bath he heard the guards shout ‘sir, they don’t know how to use it’
‘Sir, they missed!’
‘Ohhhh there goes her arm!’
The Count sank back into his bath, safe in the knowledge his head would never fall out with his neck. He just needed to work out more devious ways to get his peasant folk to lop off their own.