Ballad of a Godless Man (Part 4a)
Letters between M. and Mme. Quancard
My dear Monsieur Quancard,
No word from you for the last few days, and so I am writing to you once more. Can you really not bear to be in this house at all… even to see me? How do you think it feels, sir, to be bound to such a place when our son is not to be seen or heard here? The servants are beside themselves with worry and grief… a fraction of that which I am feeling.
The neighbours do what they can to offer support, but it only goes so far. While I would never presume to challenge your will, husband, I would appeal to your better nature. Allow me to travel to Chartres or the greater countryside if need be and bring our son home! You cannot deny the extremity with which you dealt with this affair.
Answer me, I beg you.
Do not mistake that I share not in your pain. The child – our only child – who we raised the right way – betrayed me. I have long held the belief that there is only one way to deal with traitors. I uphold that belief here and disagree when you regard my actions as extreme. And I intend not to return to the house until I deem it free of his pestilence; until I feel I can again walk its floors without hearing his laughter. If it distresses you being there, join me here in Paris. The city air may well be a tonic for you, Madame.
My dear Monsieur,
Has mercy truly deserted you? Can you not even persuade yourself to pen his name? I have surrendered to you time and time again, but in this, I will not concede. If you will not return from the capital to put an end to this, I will do so on your behalf. Jean-Yves cannot have gone far – he knows so little of the country. Chartres will be my first port-of-call and the surrounding towns from there if I am unsuccessful.
You speak of traitors easily, Monsieur… And there may well be one in this family, but it is not our son!
Return or do not return, sir – I would not presume to make that decision for you.