Marguerite sat at the window and looked out. The landscape was shrouded in mist, crows flying across the fields. A cold shiver ran through her when a door slammed in the big house. Her hand reached to her neck, where under a touch of silk hung a ring on a chain. Guillaume’s ring.
Guillaume de Rabsteing had knocked on the service door two years ago today. It had been a stormy, cold night, the first snow had fallen. Marguerite had just been in the kitchen to make some final arrangements for the Banquette the following day. The Marquis de Rouvignac was to visit with his wife. Raymond, Marguerite’s husband, wanted to discuss important deals with him.
Raymond … at the thought of him, a melancholy sigh escaped her. Her father had begged her to marry Count Roussillon. He was the guarantee for more influence and security of her family. She had agreed, she thought the Count was upright and friendly. She had only been 17 years old, still full of curiosity about her future life. In the small family chapel, she gave her vows, intimidated and at the same time hopeful for a life on the side of a man, who was older than her father.
She quickly realized that she was just a gem for him. Her marital duties were well-defined, otherwise she was completely ignored by him. Soon she hated this life, became atrabilious.
But on that particular evening, when Guillaume de Rabsteing knocked on the door and asked for a night’s sleep, everything changed. Tall, slender, black, wavy hair that poked his face, emerald eyes… she was lost from the very first moment.
Elise, the cook, had sent him to the stable. Marguerite had later said they needed a new bellhop, maybe the man would match.
It had not taken long and Marguerite and Guillaume fell in love. They had always been very discreet, had only met when Raymond stayed out for longer periods.
For long time she didn’t confided in anybody, but her maid Sophie, who had been with her for many years, eventually became her closest friend. Thanks to Sophie’s help, the two lovers felt safer, because she was on her guard.
Until this fateful morning. Raymond had ridden off the previous day, planning to meet with powerful men in Aix to tackle new regulations by Alfonso Berengario.
Marguerite and Guillaume had left each other in the early morning hours. She still laid happy and naked in her bed, when suddenly the door opened with a loud bang. Terrified, she saw Raymond. How could that be? Had not Sophie been able to warn her in time? Raymond’s face was distorted, his clothes completely dirty. “Where is he, your lover?” Terrified to death, she pulled the silk blanket up to her chin, shook her head, her throat tight. Raymond tore off her blanket. She blushed and noticed out of the corner of her eye the ring Guillaume had given her the previous night, as a token of his love, under the table near the bed. Raymond became aware of her gaze and reached for the ring. Guillaume’s name was engraved in the ring.
Her deceived husband dropped the ring and rushed out of the room.
Immediately, shivering Marguerite searched for the ring. Her sweetheart was hopefully already in town, and she would be able to send Sophie after him to warn him.
But it turned out differently. Raymond quickly got to where Guillaume had gone and rode after him with a handful of armed men.
It was the kitchen boy who came to her shortly afterwards. He reported what had happened. The count had attacked Guillaume immediately, injured him seriously. When the Count took out the killing blow, Guillaume said, “What a sweet reminder that love so often exists!”, then his head rolled into the tall grass. The Count took his hunting knife and cut out the heart of the dead man.
When the boy left, Marguerite screamed in pain. She had lost her love forever. Would Raymond kill her as well?
But nothing happened and it was not until the evening when the count returned.
Her gaze returned to the fields. By now it had become dark, the clouds of mist thick as soup and the crows had left the fields.
The door opened, she rose with a heavy heart and sat down at the dining table. There was nothing more important to her, whatever Raymond had in mind with her. She looked at her plate, which her husband put in front of her. The smell of fried heart rose in her nose, red-brown sauce ran over the potatoes. As if in slow motion she reached for the cutlery and began to eat. She cut into the tender meat and put it into her mouth.
She felt the ice-cold air crawl up her back from the open window as it reached for her neck. When she finished eating, Raymond opened a wooden box he had placed next to him on the table and asked, “Did it taste good?” She looked in the box and in horror saw the head of Guillaume. She felt sick. As if in a trance, she got up and went to the wide-open window. “I do not want to spoil the delicious taste with anything!” she whispered into the icy night and let herself fall into the darkness.