Ballad of a Godless Man (Part 8b)
Letters between Jean-Yves and M. Duvalier
My wife spied in the society pages yesterday that you (or someone bearing your name) was married not two weeks ago. If this is indeed you, we both offer our heartiest congratulations! You should have written – invitation or otherwise, it would have been our pleasure to give a gift to mark the occasion.
A fine girl, by the look of things. Your parents would be proud, if it’s not too bold a thing to say. But they would – I hope you know this.
I pray that this letter finds you – it’s been so long that I’m not even sure you’re at the same address.
My old friends,
I must sincerely apologise for not informing you of the wedding, but it happened so fast, there was no time at all to arrange a guest list. Had there been, then of course you would both have received an invitation.
The Jean-Yves Quancard seen in the society pages is indeed myself, and my wonderful bride Elise d’Ésmier. There was something of a “ticking clock” about her dowry, which is a complicated bit of nuptial law that her father insisted upon. Frankly, I don’t understand enough about it to bore you with the details, even if I wanted to.
We are at the same house in Créteil for now. However, it is expected that, should Elise expect a child in the long-term, we may move further into Paris. Or otherwise alternate between the country and the city.
Really, I cannot express the joy I currently feel, my dear friend. When next you both are in Créteil, look me up – it would be marvellous to see you.
The very best,
You find me at my most conflicted – the like of which I have never known since your mother deserted your father those years ago.
My wife and I have never been the kind of people to spy, or to believe in gossip, or to mind anyone’s business other than our own. However, we think of you almost as a son and thus we would do anything to protect you.
We were in town a few days ago, and while lunching outside Le Café d’Argent, Mme. Duvalier and I happened to notice Mme. Quancard, arm-in-arm with another man. Intimately so — if we were to compare it to our own courtship.
It may be nothing, Monsieur, but after days of mentally grappling with this from one direction to the other, I felt it was incumbent on me to make you aware. And so little into your married life, I hope to God that I’m wrong in what I suspect.
Mme. Duvalier and I both send the best luck, and the expression that we’re both at your disposal should you require.
As ever, your obedient servant,
Dear M. Duvalier,
I thank you most sincerely for your last letter. And I hope I can put your minds at rest when I tell you my wife’s meeting with the man you saw at Le Café d’Argent was all perfectly in order. The man in question is our lawyer, M. de Loire, who is overseeing the transference of Elise’s dowry and estate over to mine. They are old friends – they grew up together, as I understand it – so I suppose I can understand how you may have mistaken their intimacy.
Once again, thank you for your concern.