The Material World: Part 2- Child’s Play

The Material World: Part 2- Child’s Play

Exercise Your Imagination!  Do you like stories with mystery and suspense? Well, if you do, keep reading and enjoy Eggcentricsagas.  If you are just joining Eggcentricsagas, start from the beginning: A La Mano: Part 1-The Treasure

Adelaide liked the company of her English companions, and she felt much safer than living alone. Together, they had taught each other to speak their respective languages better. Although Adelaide was much more fluent in English than her housemates in French. The fortune-teller had dreamed of going to America. After hearing from a cousin of hers about traveling carnivals and other monetary opportunities. The seer imagined her placard with fancy calligraphy: Madame des Plumes, Oracle to the Stars. She had entertained the thought of selling her Parisian apartment and convincing Polly and Penelope to go with her. Never envisioning going on her own, Adelaide thought Penelope could be a great asset to her fortune-telling business.

Adelaide had told Penelope that she possessed a unique gift. Not one of remarkable beauty (although Penelope was not unattractive) or of monumental intellect (however, Penelope was very clever) but a faculty that everyone possessed but rarely used. The girl had an innate, keen intuition. Knowing things instinctively, she could use her extra-sensory perception. The girl had uttered prescient things to Madame des Plumes that astounded even her, and so Penelope became Adelaide’s secret pupil in clairvoyance.

Penelope was bound to be working class, a seamstress or maid like her mother. Having recognized this, Adelaide was happy to teach the girl skills that she would need to support herself as she liked the daughter of her domestic. Penelope had shown a talent for sewing and knitting, fashioning a cozy sweater and a quaint, little, pointed hat for Pepe the Second. Everyone was pleased with the fabrications. Well, everyone except Pepe. However, being a tolerant dog, he accepted his costuming as well as expected.

As much as she appreciated schooling the child in what most likely was to be her future employment, Adelaide privately hoped to give Penelope a leg up on becoming something other than what her lack of formal education and social standing dictated. So, the fortune-teller trained Penelope to remember her dreams, develop her second sight, and gave the girl a spare Lenormand deck. Over time, Penelope had memorized the associated playing cards. By listening to Madame des Plumes’ fortune-telling sessions, especially the ones of English visitors, Penelope knew the general meanings of both decks. On her own, Penelope developed her system. She made up personal stories and interpretations about the cards.

When the gargoyle man with the pointed nose and thick, dark mustache had stormed out, and Adelaide shrieked, Polly rushed into the salon.

Alarmed at the commotion, the maid asked, “Madame des Plumes! What’s the matter?” Then she saw Penelope. “What are you doing in the salon?” she demanded of her daughter.

Adelaide came to Penelope’s rescue. “Don’t mind her. She likes to listen.”

Polly looked back at her employer. In a respectful tone, she said, “Be that as it may, she shouldn’t be in here. What happened to Monsieur Le Blanc?”

“Apparently, he didn’t like what he heard.”

“But what did you say to upset him?”

Madame replied, “Je ne sais pas, I don’t know.” Polly was frowning, so Adelaide added, “I don’t remember.”

Polly said nothing, but clearly, she thought Adelaide was not divulging the truth about what caused Monsieur Le Blanc’s erratic behavior.

When Penelope saw her mother’s expression, she returned Adelaide’s favor. “Madame des Plumes was in a trance, Mother. I saw her because I was behind the curtain and peeked out.”

“Well, what did she say?”

Penelope knew that her mother was a worry-wart, so an entire disclosure of the reading would be too distressing. “I didn’t understand all of it. She was speaking quickly in French. Something about problems and trouble.”

This statement seemed to mollify her mother. “Well, at least he paid,” she remarked. Then she collected the teacups and set them on a nearby tea tray. Polly, not inclined to mysticism, didn’t wholeheartedly approve of Adelaide’s fortune-telling business. She lived with what she considered nonsense. However, it provided steady employment and a home for herself and her daughter. “He was a vulgar man,” she commented as she opened the curtains. After blowing out the candles, Polly picked up the tea set. Leaving the room, headed for the kitchen, she mumbled more to herself than anyone in particular, “Strange, too. Something was wrong with him. Most unsettling…”

Penelope looked at Adelaide, who had removed her turban. Adelaide took the girl by the shoulders and whispered so that Polly wouldn’t overhear her question. “Is that all I said?”

Shaking her head, Penelope told the truth. Answering in a hushed tone, she revealed, “I heard fight, duel and something about blood. The devil, money and murder.” Then the girl pointed to the child card. “Do you think this card had anything to do with me?”

Adelaide stammered, “Wh, what makes you say that?”

“You looked at it and then at me. Then you squealed like someone had pinched you hard.”

Adelaide stared back at the eleven-year-old.

Knowing the associated playing card, Penelope offered, “He looks like the Knave of Spades with his long nose and bushy mustache.” She added, “A man of treachery.” Looking down at the deck on the table, the girl fanned it out. “Let’s find out what he means to us.” Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and then chose a card. Penelope opened her eyes and turned it over. The Fox.

The young seer began her reading as she looked at the picture. A fox crouched in front of his den with a hen trapped by the neck beneath his paw. “More trickery afoot. Someone with red hair involved in crime. Watch out for a trap. Caution is the key. Pay attention to words and actions that don’t match.”

Adelaide listened in amazement, but also with some trepidation. Penelope spoke with an authority beyond her years. Her pupil had not only learned her trade, but she seemed to have surpassed her mistresses’ abilities. The experienced fortune-teller knew Penelope had somehow tapped into something otherworldly. Occult powers beyond normal comprehension.

Penelope closed her eyes again and then resumed. “Nine of clubs is the corresponding card. There will be trouble with the police.” Opening her eyes, she looked at Adelaide. Not knowing what to say, the woman remained silent.

Being locked in the room upstairs for too long, Pepe the Second barked. Then they heard him attacking the door, scratching furiously at it. Also, hearing the racket, Polly returned to the salon. “You’d better get him quick!” she said to her daughter. “I can’t afford to replace that door!”

Quickly, Penelope ran up and opened the door for Pepe the Second. Excited to be freed, he jumped at the girl’s legs and then hurried down the stairs. Running to the foyer, he sniffed around. The evil man had left a stench that only the dog could detect. Made anxious by the smell, Pepe lifted his leg to mark his territory.

“Non, Pepe! No! Mauvais chien! Bad dog!” Penelope screeched at him in French and English, not knowing which language he preferred. “Viens ici! Come here!”

The noise, not the words, was enough to make the dog stop his activity. Looking up, he watched as the girl bounded down the stairs. Excited, his tail wagged, and his body wiggled as she took his leash out of the umbrella stand. Polly had entered the hallway. “I’m going to take Pepe for a walk,” Penelope told her mother.

Penelope fastened it onto his collar as her mother told her, “Put on your coat and take an umbrella. It’s drizzling.” While Penelope complied with her instructions, Polly held the leash, with Pepe bouncing up and down like a ball at the end of his tether.

Polly opened the front door for Penelope and Pepe. She watched her daughter open the umbrella while the dog strained vigorously at the leash. Glancing at the empty street and feeling assured that they were safe, Polly closed the door. She walked back to the kitchen to clean the dishes. Pausing briefly in the salon’s doorway as she walked by, Polly could hear the seer muttering under her breath.

Poorly illuminated, Adelaide added to the gloom of the room by blocking the light. She was standing in front of the windows and looking out. Ordinarily, Polly thought about the supernatural as little as possible, but Monsieur Le Blanc seemed to have left some of his darkness behind. From the salon, cold air seeped out. Swirling around her, it produced a dreadful feeling, and she shuddered.

“Do you require anything?” Polly inquired of her mistress.

Adelaide turned. Concern radiated out from her face. “Non, Merci.”

“Is everything okay, Madame?”


Polly doubted this statement as Madame rarely spoke French to them unless she was teaching them. But she was not one to question her employer, so the maid dismissed it from her mind and went about her duties.

When Polly left, Adelaide paced and talked to herself. “Ce n’est pas bon, pas bon…”

This is no good, no good…

Next: The Material World: Part 3- Fox and Hen

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About J Fremont

Author/veterinarian J. Fremont has created Magician of Light, a novel about famed glassmaker Rene Laliqué. Exercise your imagination. Enjoy!