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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Easter (05/30/05)

TITLE: A Crepe Heart 3 - Easter
By dub W


Easter in Calais; it sounded like the title of a “B” movie. Monique would be there, Jacques was expected, and the Countess would entertain us all. At least that was what I was dreaming as the train entered Calais station. Flanders was beautiful in the spring time; however, traveling at night I saw little.

I pulled my brown hat down over my eyes and lifted the collar of my coat. The salt borne breeze off of the channel cut through human foil even on warm days, but my abundant clothing adequately protected me and also gave me ideal cover.

“Monsieur, pouvoir je porte votre valise.” Jacques’ voice surprised me as I stepped onto the platform. He was dressed in porter’s cap and clothing and was pushing a small handcart.

I nodded my head and handed him my bag. What was Jacques doing at the station? He kept walking with the cart.

“Comment le voyage était-il ?” His inquiry about my trip was a common question of the porters in the station; however, I barely heard him as it was all I could do to keep up with his pace, and I knew the question had multiple meanings.

“Fine, merci,” A polite response was all I could get out - we were nearly jogging through the station. I tried to control my voice when I whispered, “Why are you meeting the train today?” I needed to know why he was there. Jacques was too important to risk.

“Monique m'a envoyé.” Monique, I might have figured. She was the risk taker.

“It’s too dangerous.” I tried to emphasize the danger, but it was hard to be emphatic in a whisper while running.

“C'était le seul moyen, nous avons besoin de se déplacer rapidement.” He told me that it was the only way, and that we needed to move quickly. He had to concentrate with English; in a rush he always resorted to French.

We exited the station and I followed him into the taxi area along the curbing.

“My dear friend Jacques, where are we headed?”

“La Ferme de Wolphus, Zouafques. Twenty kilomètres. We have a coach.”

Good, I thought. A farm., we could be there in less than an hour.

A gray Mercedes suddenly pulled to the curb alongside of us, however, it kept rolling. Jacques took my bag, opened the back door and jumped in. “L'hâte, entrer.” He called to me over his shoulder. I took his hand and jumped into the car.

Seconds later we were headed into the French countryside away from the city. I recognized the driver; another friend of Monique’s.

“Jacques, I am so glad to see you.” Finally, I was able to greet him..

“Je suis content pour vous voir aussi, monsieur. Excuse me. Yes, my friend, it is good we are together once again. The Lord has blessed us with your arrival.”

“How many Jacques, how many are with us now?”

“Over one hundred in Paris monsieur, fifty in Strasbourg, a dozen in Nancy and Bordeaux. But, we are winning just one at a time. Monique said she knows of more, others who escaped, and might join us. But, she fears that there are few in Northern Provinces.”

Monique was better connected than I, her college years roaming France had paid off. She knew more about France and particularly Paris than many natives, and her French was without accent.

On the highway ahead we could see a mass of people blocking the road. Our driver looked back over his shoulder at us.

“Qui l'est ?” “Who is it?” Jacques asked both in French and English.

“Je ne sais pas monsieur, je ne pense pas qu'ils ont des armes.” He didn’t know, but he saw no weapons.

“Avoid them,” I said to the driver; I hoped he understood a little English.

Unexpectedly, one of the men in the road lifted a hand and pointed to a hillside. Jacques tapped the shoulder of our driver and our car slowed.

Jacques rolled down his window. A tall man in the center of the road had tears in his eyes. He pointed to the hill. Three crosses graced the top of a knoll. The sun was rising over the ridgeline and illuminated the crosses into crimson silhouette.

“Monsieur,” Jacques took my arm, “Monique was wrong.”

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This article has been read 1164 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight06/06/05
Loved the cliff hanger! Great job!
Sandra Petersen 06/06/05
Very suspenseful! Is this going to be a novel eventually? I liked the way you had the characters speak in French and then interpreted what they said. The interpretation never sounded awkward. Good imagery at the end.
Karri Compton06/06/05
This did hold my attention. I love a mystery. I guess I'm just extremely dense, but I don't get it. What do the three crosses have to do with Monique?
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/06/05
I liked this! My favorite line is "it was hard to be emphatic in a whisper while running." :-D

It took me a minute to figure out the end, too. But then I realized what Monique was wrong about--few Christians in Northern Provinces!

Great job!
Kyle Chezum06/06/05
Excellent! I love the intensity and the drama, and would love to hear more of the story. Keep up the good work!
Helga Doermer06/06/05
Again, you caught my attention with your opening words and held me in suspense all the way through. I am practically holding my breath waiting for the next scene.
Karen Treharne06/06/05
A good suspense story well-written and spell-binding, but I also have to admit that I don't get the connection between the three crosses on the hill in France during a time with limos, etc.

Someone say that it had to do with no Christians in the provinces, but that doesn't make sense to me either. Hopefully you can set me straight in my denseness!

I do agree that this would make a good book beginning, and I love mysteries, too. Yours in Christ
Delores Baber06/08/05
Along with Karri, I'm left a bit confused. This story is obviously the work of a very gifted and creative writer, but either it is meant to be read by someone with more discernment than I possess or you need to give the events a bit more clarity. But you are very talented. I am curious about the title of your piece also. Can you shed some light on these 2 areas via a PM?
Cheryl Thompson06/08/05
I spent a few hours in Calais, France. After spending a year in Firenze, Italia, I came into Calais by train. A single, American woman struggling with 4 large suitcases. A man, who I presumed to be the Porter, helped me with my bags, assured me they would be on board the ship I was taking over to Dover, England. Once underway, I began wondering around the ship and found myself waiting in line to see the Captain, as I entered the room, the Captain had his back to me, when he turned around, both he and I stood still... I realized the "Porter" who helped me with my bags was the Captain of this ship! He excused himself from everyone else...in mid sentence... and gave me the Captains tour of the ship... He had asked me to go back to Calais with him, and though I was tempted, I was scheduled to meet my best friend in London, England... I've always wondered...what if?
A Crepe Heart 3 brought back such treasured memories for me... thank you, and I look forward to the next episode!
Val Clark06/09/05
Once again you transported me to another time and place. Skillful use and interpretation of the French language came just short of interrupting the flow of the story.
Shari Armstrong 06/09/05
I was looking forward to the next installment and was not disapointed. :) Thank you for the creative way you explained the French for those of us who don't know the language. :)
Linda Germain 06/09/05
Excellent, as always. :0)
Debbie OConnor06/10/05
I'm really starting to get into this continuing saga. Your writing is great and you keep the suspense alive.
Suzanne R06/10/05
Wow! The mixture of intrigue, travel and faith is lovely.
Pat Guy 06/11/05
I'm hooked and terrified if there was someone on any of the crosses. (or all three) Better be a part 4 coming up! Oh and so very well done - (she says with a sigh waiting for the next episode)
What a testimony to the strength and character of winners of souls in places where their beliefs are persecuted. God bless. Especially since I learned a little "parle vous Franc'e" along the way.
For those who missed something in this story, I was thrown off by the title, but it intrigued me enough to find out more ...

The latter half of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century brought about one of the most passionate and calamitious series of wars that Europe had ever experienced. The early Reformation had been, in hindsight, remarkably free from bloodshed; the honeymoon, however, lasted only a short while. It was inevitable that the growing division between Christian churches in Europe would lead to a series of armed conflicts for over a century. Protestants and Catholics would shed each other's blood in prodigious amounts in national wars and in civil wars. These struggles would eventually shatter the European monarchical traditions themselves. The monarchy, which had always seemed an impregnable political institution, was challenged by Protestants unhappy with the rule of Catholic kings. The final result of these struggles would be the overthrow and execution of Charles I in England in the middle of the seventeenth century, an historical earthquake that permanently changed the face of Europe.

More about: The French Wars of Religion: 1562-1598 (http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/REFORM/WARS.HTM)