A Dream Worth Keeping

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

November 24th, 2013, 6:30 pm #1


I believe
We've found a dream that's worth keeping
For more than just today
And even though
The winds of change may come sweeping
It's still a dream worth keeping
So don't let it fade away.

It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that my life is so uninteresting that perhaps I will have nothing to write in it after the first one or two pages.

But I read my father's diaries so many times... and this last one of his remained with enough blank pages that I can use too.

This is my inheritance from him, my most treasured one... and this is something I can continue, unlike all his dreams which withered away on the poverty road.

I can write... and I'll try to, from time to time.

[align=center]Some day you might be thinking
That life has passed you by
Your spirits might be sinking
With hope in short supply
And that's the reason why
I know this dream's worth keeping
As long as it will stay
And even when you see the darkness come creeping
A dream worth keeping
Will never fade away....
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on December 11th, 2013, 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 12th, 2013, 11:23 pm #2

[align=center]EMPTY AND LOST[/align]
[align=right]7-th of October 1719[/align]

I am back from the funerals and I have to start packing. I feel empty and lost without Maman and Papa, I can’t stop crying… or, rather, I do stop from time to time but the tears stream again. I found this notebook which has some blank pages, and I am writing in it, just to feel closer to Papa, whom I have loved a lot.

Why them? Why this damn hurricane hitting us? Why the roof had to fall on both of them, while I wasn’t there? I am angry on myself for having deserted them. I should have not left them alone in the room right then, no matter what.

I can’t understand how life ends abruptly, how I was with them a few minutes before the tree fell, and now I am alone, having left them in the cold cemetery, facing the shame of a collective burial. They aren’t alone in a tomb, how a married couple would deserve; they share it with two other neighbours who had nobody left behind to pay for their funeral.

Pere Dominique said that it was God’s hand over me, and that Papa isn’t suffering anymore. This is true, he had been crippled for so many years, with his health continuously deteriorating. Everything I have done I have done for him. For getting food and medicine. God knows it.

I had a long discussion with Pere Dominique both before and after the funeral. I still owe him money after having given him everything I had. He found the cheapest solution for us all.

He said he knows people who can find someone to buy my house, with all its debts and how damaged it is. It seems there are people who repair old homes with potential of renovation and resell or rent them at good prices.

On one side, this would solve my debt-related and maintenance-related problems, but, on the other side, this is the only house I have ever had here in Port de Paix. It shows that I belong somewhere, I am not a snail with my house on my back, neither the street rat I have been sometimes. At least, then I knew why I was doing it and that there were two people who depended on me and to whom I had to return home. What would happen with me now?

I am scared. Terribly scared. I still can’t fathom a whole life ahead, without Maman and Papa. I am alone in the world, and I am going to lose my home too. Would I end in the streets for good? Yes, I will have, for a start, some money to rent a small room somewhere, but what when the savings are gone? I think I have to manage well the little amount of money I am going to remain with after I sell the house and pay the debts…

I have to pack first, to try to sleep then, and maybe I’ll find, with God’s help, what’s best for me, because I don’t know anymore. And I have to stop writing too, as the candle is ending and I have no other.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on December 12th, 2013, 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 12th, 2013, 11:31 pm #3

[align=center]A NEW HOME[/align]
[align=right]10-th of October 1719[/align]


The moving is complete, the contract for selling the house has been signed and the money not needed for the debts is safely deposited in the bank. There would be people to think that I am lucky to be able to have put aside a dowry for later, if I ever want to get married. Or maybe I'll want something else in the future. Open my own shop, with an associate? Not sure.

But my real good luck is not this; it is the fact that Madame Lucia is so kind and understanding. I am living with her and Ghislaine now, and they are the ones who try their best to comfort me. We are a sort of a strange family caring for each other. Because she is not only an employer, she is definitely more than this.

May God have mercy of Madame Lucia and keep her and her child in his care, as she has shown care for me. I offered her the candleholder which had been adorning my parents’ room. I could have sold it for a few more coins, but this way it is better. Now, the coins aren’t everything in this world.

I am deeply grateful to her, not only for having hired me, back in July, when nobody would have hired a street rat, and for having put up with my absences when I wasn’t earning enough for my father’s medicine. I was sorry to disappoint her, but I had no other solution then.

Now she has received me back to work and she has allowed me to stay here too. I am living and working in ”Fleur du Café”, and I have no more reasons to slack. I won’t be late at work, and I’ll stay how long it is necessary to prepare the potions, healing oils and salves.

Fortunately, my luggage is not taking much room. I have only the trunk, comprising all my father’s notebooks, the dagger remained from Pierre and the dress my mother made me for confirmation, when I turned fifteen. It still fits, and it is the only pretty dress I could keep.

I moved my trunk in the storeroom, where Madame Lucia is sleeping also, with the child, now that her rooms upstairs have a damaged roof. Ghislaine is sleeping in the kitchen now. I will have to see what’s the matter and mobilize the neighbours for help, paying with plants and potions for it.

I like working in a herborist’s shop. In the beginning, in July, it took a few days to get accustomed to all the smells in such a shop, but it has been interesting to learn about so many healing plants, what they are good at, what parts are to be used and how to make different kind of medicine from them. It’s cleaner than other jobs, and it’s honest.

I shouldn’t be afraid anymore that somebody would deliver me to the soldiers to be judged and branded as a thief. Maybe everything that had happened had been a sign from God to warn me about my sins and determine me sin no more, now that my parents aren’t any longer needing the money only I could provide. I can change, I am repenting, I hope God will have mercy of me how He had of other sinning women in the Bible.

Now, more than anything, I am grateful that I am no longer alone in the world. That Madame Lucia and Ghislaine have shown me that they are willing to be my family from now on.

And we have started our common life with a modest feast, as I had learnt a couple of days ago in church that today is Saint Ghislain, and I had told it to Madame Lucia. I had a present for Ghislaine - a scarf which belonged to my mother, well kept and almost unused. Madame Lucia gave her a new apron, and the celebrated one cried of emotion that it was for the first time in her life that she learnt she had a patron saint.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on August 16th, 2014, 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 14th, 2013, 7:02 pm #4

[align=right]13-th of October 1719[/align]

[align=center] [/align]

There had been enough deaths for the quarantine to be declared a couple of days ago. The town looks deserted, with all the residents who had the opportunity to leave to the countryside doing so. The beautiful mansions have their shutters up and gates padlocked, their well-kept lawns and gardens having weeds grown wildly.

As if the illness couldn’t catch them from behind if they run away! I think it is rather stupid to do. When God wants you back, there is no bargain that can save you. If you still have days left, you’ll overcome the illness or not catch it.

The market place is silent, almost abandoned, with closed shops, locked houses and empty streets. But those who are alive and hadn’t run away, still have to eat and live. Like us, for example, and prices went extremely high. Some of them have also to care for their sick ones. And poorer people are starving because they can’t afford the prices increasing every day.

Sick people are everywhere, sometimes getting dizzy with the first rising of the fever and looking for support, or some fallen.

The ghostlike patrol carriage of the Board of Guardians is running through the town, collecting the ones who fell ill and feverish at the corners of the streets. Another carriage, driven by strong black slaves, is collecting the dead ones.

I hate the plague doctors, and by listening to the people’s discussions I know why the Board of Guardians is using them for fighting all epidemics. They are, in fact, doctors without many clientele or their apprentices, monks who have some medical knowledge, brave barber-surgeons (most often their journeymen though). People say that quadroons and mulatto leaf doctors are among them too. Possible. But Madame Celestine is not among them, she has another call to which she has persuaded Madame Lucia too.

The wide-brimmed black hat worn close to the head identifies as doctors, but it also shields somehow from infection, covering what the bird mask doesn’t. And said birdmask is always filled with the aromatic herbs, camphor and spices they buy from us, countering the miasmas which cause illness. The leather breeches and the waxed, long, black overcoat also protects against the illness, making anything slide over and not remain. And those wooden canes… I think they and the beak masks are what frighten me the most… if not the imminence of death they are announcing.

They are everywhere, bad omens announcing impending death, with their eerie clothing and masks, this is why I hate them, even if they are our most faithful customers now. They and the people who remained, and to whom we sold most of our camphor and spices. People have started all kind of rumours about some of the plague doctors, and I refuse to think about it, may God have mercy of us!

Madame Celestine told us to drink only tea, to wash our hands often, to burn aromatic plants and incenses in the home, to sleep in clean beds, to do laundry more often than usual and to wear camphor balls at our necks. We are doing it, all of us, but Madame Lucia is endangering herself by helping Madame Celestine with her tent hospital, which is needed because the nuns’ run one is not enough. Maybe this is something God would take into account at the Great Judgment.

And if the illness is going to take me too… be God’s will done. I wouldn’t mind joining Maman, Papa and my brother Pierre, whom I hardly remember from my childhood, somewhere where, as Pere Dominique read at the funeral, ”there is no sadness, nor a sigh” and people aren’t sick and hungry anymore.

The only one who would miss me and regret me would be Madame Lucia, as she needs someone who can write and calculate properly in order to have a successful shop. Well, as successful as it can be, which means, like most shops here in the market place, to earn the daily bread.

But maybe all four of us – baby Alphonse included – will succeed to survive the quarantine, if God allows us. We are praying together each night.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on August 16th, 2014, 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 14th, 2013, 8:02 pm #5

[align=right]19-th of October 1719[/align]

Madame’s lover is back for a few days. This is good for the whole household, as we have done what we could, getting the roof patched, the window recovered and everything cleaned up, but the chimney is still broken and we are out of supplies. Not to mention out of money, which might be more tragical in the current situation of the market. We lost enough drying plants due to the broken window which left all the rain and wetness into the storeroom where the freshly bought plants were drying. We also had to pay our neighbours, for their help, in kind, as no money were left after the huge foodstuff price increases now.

His arrival was God sent. He gave the money needed for the remaining repairs and for resupply. He also ordered lots of camphor balls, to be sent to all the Navy ships in the port, to keep the sailors healthy. He was wearing one too. I told him that the order might need a few days to be honoured, and that I’ll try my best to manage with it. In the worst case, I would recommend him other suppliers for the quantity I can’t meet.

I am starting to understand how useful is for some women having an upperclass protector. If I think well, in some cases it might be even better than having a husband, because having a husband allows a woman even less freedom. Dowry, property, everything belongs to him and she can’t take a decision without her husband. And having a husband who leaves a woman for another and doesn’t give her money to raise her children anymore is nothing better than having a protector who leaves her for a younger woman. The results are the same.

For Madame’s sake, who is so young and inexperienced, and madly in love with him, I hope she will succeed to keep his interest for a long time. And that he won’t be recalled too soon back to France, how it happened with the Governor.

Not that it truly might have happened to me, but even if it had, I don’t think I would have liked having a protector. I think I would still have felt like a bird in a cage, even if he was the one I am thinking about - the kind Navy officer who hadn’t wanted to tell me his name. I have learnt it, anyway, about a month after our encounter, during the festival celebrating the change of power between the former and the present governor. The handsome officer was actually the Governor’s son.

I sort of liked him, and it was the only encounter with a man that hadn’t left me a bitter taste. It might have been enough to have followed his call if he wanted me another time, right then, when I had an important reason to need money: my father’s medicine and the household upkeep in general.

Yes, he was arrogant, like all noblemen - but he ultimately didn’t use his power. He had been considerate and kind. He had given me a choice, and I could have left, when he had told me that I might, without consequences and after having eaten a good meal like it hadn’t happened for a long time. But then it was … maybe curiosity, maybe still the feeling that I was indebted to him for not having turned me to the soldiers… and for everything else.

I don’t regret that night in early August, but I am not Cinderella from the stories. I wouldn’t like being his toy, in a cage, always at his will, then being kicked when another girl strikes his fancy.

It is good that Madame Lucia has a protector, and that he is the only one who could save us and the shop from collapse now; but I wouldn’t want one. Maybe the years in the streets made me cherish my freedom more.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on December 14th, 2013, 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 14th, 2013, 8:37 pm #6

[align=center]THE FEAST OF THE DEPARTED[/align]
[align=right]2-nd of November 1719[/align]


All you holy Saints of God, make intercession for us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord,
From all evil, O Lord, deliver us -
From all sin, from Your wrath,
From sudden and unlooked for death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will.

Fortunately, the quarantine has been lifted for Toussaint. It is a good thing, especially that now people have many more beloved departed to mourn. The churches and the cemeteries have been full.

All Saints’ Day and the day after, All Souls’, today, are a time to think again about Maman, Papa and Pierre. For me, the only difference is in the colour of the flowers and fabrics adorning the church – white yesterday, violet today. And, of course, some of the content of the Mass.

Listening to it, I felt what I have been feeling for several times since my parents' death: that I have been spared for a reason. I don't know this reason yet, but it will be revealed some day. And I think it was a warning, a punishment for my sins by taking my parents, and, at the same time, the mercy with which God had told the sinner in the Holy Scriptures: "You are free. Go away and sin no more!" Yes, I am living a honest life and I am proud of it... but not too proud. I need to be humble and repenting for the past, in order to be forgiven.

At the first confession after the storm - it was before the quarantine settled, when starting a novena for the rest of their souls - the priest gave me absolution, given that I was repenting and that I hadn't added greed to my sins. So, as long as I keep on the right side of the road, I am safe. It was also proven by the fact that, through praying and helping the others, God kept away the sickness from me.

We attended, all three, the All Saints Mass. We took the confession and the Holy Eucharisty, and I paid a memorial for my beloved ones. I asked Madame Lucia and Ghislaine to give me the names of their beloved departed, and we put them all on the memorial list. But they don’t have graves to visit. They lighted their candles only in the church.

It was exactly how the priest has explained about so many unknown saints – the same happens with our ancestors or beloved siblings, as I don’t know where my brother Pierre has fallen in battle in Spain either:

There are some of them who have left a name,
So that men declare their praise.
And there are some who have no memorial,
who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
and so have their children after them.

Today I tressed three flower wreaths, evergreens and the sort of wild chrysanthemum which is cheaper than the regular ones which are the traditional flowers of the dead, and I went to the cemetery to light some candles there and put the wreaths on my parents’ grave. I gave some bread to the poor too, and I left a loaf on their grave too.

I succeeded to find Pere Dominique and pay him for a blessing of the grave as well, and I prayed with him. If the other two people who are buried there together with Maman and Papa rejoice too, the better.

I miss them terribly, especially Papa. Some days more than others, but they are in my thoughts.

O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and our mother; in Thy mercy have pity on the souls of my father, my mother and my brother, and forgive them their trespasses; and make me to see them again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on July 27th, 2014, 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 15th, 2013, 7:29 am #7

[align=center]A WELCOMED NEW CUSTOMER[/align]
[align=right]11-th of November 1719[/align]


Today I made the biggest sales since July when I am working here. No, the camphor balls one doesn’t count, even if it was of a considerable amount, because I know who had ordered it, so… it wasn’t the same thing as today.

I guess it might be baby Alphonse’s good luck, since he got christened today.

Meanwhile everybody was in church, a British Navy doctor came and bought lots of things. He spoke French with a strong accent, but once I got accustomed to it, it wasn’t difficult to understand his words.

Some of the things he ordered will be ready tomorrow afternoon, when I see him again to pick them up. I sent him to the apothecary’s too, for the specific things he couldn’t find in a herborist’s shop.

I liked him, and he promised to spread the word to others about “Fleur du Café”. It would mean more Navy customers, and it is not a bad thing. He also told me about the blockade they are going to together with the French allies. Which might mean that… well, Madame Lucia will have reasons to be unhappy again.

If his compliments were genuine, it is a reason to be glad that I have learnt so much since July while working here. And I have liked what I was doing. I guess this is a good thing. Perhaps, once upon a time, a few years in the future, I might open my own shop. Who knows? But the perspective to make competition to my present mistress is nothing I would like, though. So maybe I will have a shop, but not exactly in the same branch… because having it in another town where I know nobody and leaving Port de Paix is again something not to please me.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on August 16th, 2014, 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 15th, 2013, 8:33 pm #8

[align=center]A HEALING TOUCH[/align]
[align=right]13-th of November 1719[/align]

Today I had the most unusual customers, two sailors. Privateers, they say. I vaguely remembered one of them, who had been here a month or more ago with their doctor, but it wasn’t me who served them at that moment. They had been involved in a tavern brawl and they couldn’t afford a doctor who might report them to the authorities. One was English, one was Spanish, but the English one spoke French better than the other. The Spaniard had been stabbed between two ribs and he needed the wound stitched.

Fortunately nobody had seen them entering the shop, so I couldn’t refuse to help them. If God sent them to me, He did it for a reason. I had been lucky to escape jail enough times in my years in the street; it came the time to return the favour by helping others who were in a bad situation.

I gave them some tonic to ease the pain, and I used some to wash the Spaniard’s wound. I knew what to do, even if I hadn’t stitched a wound myself. I had just seen it done until now, but I managed well. He was brave and he didn’t show in how much pain he was, and he seemed to like my touch.

I liked taking care of him, even if it wasn’t what I was usually supposed to do. It has been a bit of breaking the routine of the daily work in the shop, and I was happy at the idea of having saved a life. He was friendly, even if not speaking much French. His eyes were warm and expressive, and his behaviour so gallant! I told him to come again to check on him, to see how the wound is healing. Next time I won’t be afraid of soldiers coming after him anymore.

And I want to see with my own eyes, to convince myself that I have been able to do a really good job in washing, stitching and bandaging his wound. Maybe it is something more I can do. Maybe I should spend some of my free time around Madame Celestine, if she wants me around her. To find out if I can do more than brewing potions, pounding and mixing plants.

But after they left, I realized that they had paid me only for the tonic. I was a little angry for this. If he didn’t have any money, he could have told me so from the beginning. It would have been a gesture of charity, I wouldn’t have had the heart to kick him out bleeding how he was, but by not telling me I felt cheated. I will manage to put the money for the bandages, which belong to Madame Lucia, and I can do without the fee I had asked for my work, but it felt… not fair.

Or maybe I deserved being cheated, after how many times I stole in the crowds in the market place, just to make the ends meet at home. Perhaps it was nothing else than the right retribution. God might have sent this Spanish privateer to teach me a lesson about my past, and to make me understand that I took the right decision in repenting.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 15th, 2013, 8:35 pm #9

[align=center]GETTING A NEW FRIEND[/align]
[align=right]15-th of November 1719[/align]


Today, to my surprise, the Spanish privateer returned. This time, he was alone. But I got accustomed to the sounds of his words, I could start to discern similarities and differences the more we spoke. He paid me the debt, and I offered him a deal, taking the money only for what he was actually buying. My work was for free, both for the first time and for now, because I wanted to check on his wound and change his bandages again. It is healing, and I think the stitches are not too big. He might not remain with a too noticeable scar… not that he hasn’t others too. But, well, I guess this comes with being at sea and in fights…

He surprised me again when he told me why he hadn’t paid me initially – that he wanted me to be angry with him and remember him – as if I wouldn’t have remembered him anyway. I offered to pray for him instead of thinking about him with anger. It was better this way, as I tended his wound and I didn’t want my assistance to be useless. Besides, he seemed in need of my prayers, as I learnt later that we have something in common, both being orphans and not having anyone in this world. And each of us needs a friend more in this strange world where enemies are more frequent than friends.

We sealed our friendship with sharing the traditional bread and salt… and Ghislaine’s papaya soup and rice with legim. Adding a flavoured tea for a better digestion, and it was more pleasant to have lunch in two than alone.

So, since today I got a new friend, a privateer hero. His name is Adoracion de San Ignacio, and I am writing it here to remember for the prayers. In case I might forget such an unusual name. (Well, I think I can’t forget either the way he is saying my name… so musically different. It sounds special in his mouth.)

I have showed him the family portrait and my father’s notebooks, but I hadn’t told him that I am writing in one of them too now. That I wrote about him two days ago (and now, that he is long time gone, I am writing again, my impressions about today, with good and bad as they were).

I gave him my camphor ball, because the epidemic ended here on land, but at sea it is always possible to happen another one, as the British Navy doctor who had bought half of the shop supplies had explained me a few days ago. If this keeps him healthy and reminds him of me, the better.

But when he asked for a good bye kiss, everything changed. He is as tall as a cypress tree, and his embrace feels so protective, so warm and gentle, that I wouldn’t have wanted to get separated from him anymore. And the kiss… it simply suffocated me, but not for anything he did. He was tender, delicate, mesmerizing. I got suffocated from inside. It was something unknown inside me surging, wanting to get to light, or maybe to get to him when our lips met.

No wonder that I forgot about everything… and it was exactly Monsieur Faure to wake me up from the reverie! Of course the old curmudgeon had to complain about my unbecoming behaviour to Madame Lucia, who scolded me as expected.

But not the lecture about respectability and reputation – mine, hers, the shop’s – affected me; I mean yes, I knew she was right, I was ashamed that I had been caught by a customer… but not regretting that good bye kiss per se. What affected me more was their question – both Madame’s and Ghislaine’s: ”Do you love him?”

I don’t, but I haven’t succeeded to convince them that I don’t. Love is… foolish. I have seen it around me, and I think if it hasn’t happened to me until nineteen and a half, it most likely won’t ever. Not that I regret it. It makes people more vulnerable, it makes them suffer. Nothing I would need. Yes, Madame Lucia is right. Falling in love with a seafarer would mean that I remain, one day, heartbroken while he leaves happily towards the next port and next woman waiting for him.

But Adoracion is my friend, and it has to be something deeper. More important than a girl trophy more on the list. A kinship between two people who don’t have anyone else left. I admit I like this unique idea more.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on July 27th, 2014, 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: January 18th, 2012, 4:20 pm

December 15th, 2013, 8:36 pm #10

[align=right]25-th of November 1719[/align]

St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me your aid
And grant that I never may die an old maid.

Anyway, the days are one like the other, and going out for errands or to church, which is nearby, is the only way for me to change the scenery, given that I work and live in the same place. Sometimes I feel confined, and the free life of a former street rat seems less boring – until I remember the fear, the hunger, the cold, and the helplessness of being at anyone’s mercy. So, yes, I am happy that God and all the saints gave me the chance to redeem myself and have a honest workplace and a roof above my head for which I don’t pay half of my monthly earnings.

If I was as desperate to get married as most of my peers who aren’t yet, I would have started a novena to end today, given that this saint is the patron of unmarried girls. But I am not. I am realistic – men don’t want to marry a girl with a past. And I know well that I am not as pure as Sainte Catherine, so if a man would ever want to marry me, it would be for the dowry. And in that case… sorry, but I’d better save for myself than for somebody else to use my savings. Some day I might want to own something, to be really mine.

But Sainte Catherine is also the patron saint of students, of people who are learning. So, instead of asking her for a husband and baking her special bread, I preferred to go to church normally and pray for good health and sound mind, to learn everything I can about plants and running a shop, and some day to have one I can call mine.

Since I started to learn Spanish from Madame Lucia, I prayed for a good mind for it too. Some day this damn war will end, and Santo Domingo is closer than Martinique or Guadeloupe. It will turn to be useful for business too. And until the war ends… it might be a nice surprise for somebody, if he keeps his promise and comes back to me. If he doesn’t, it still won’t be a wasted effort. And it is easier to learn than English.
Last edited by Nicole Cavalier on July 27th, 2014, 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.