The Huguenots. Chapter II

6 Nov

The Huguenots

a novel by L. Stewart Marsden

Chapter II

The Horry family was deeply rooted in the farm community of Charenton, which thrived at the meeting of the Marne and Seine Rivers. It was a little more than five leagues to the south and east of Paris, and in spite of its proximity, enjoyed a unique separation from the great city.

Jean Horry was the third generation of Horrys to make his livelihood there. He was a vigneron and an innkeeper, as had been his father and grandfather. Sprawled over ten hectares of land was the family vineyard that produced the most renown wine in the area. Horry cared meticulously for the aged vines that twisted and turned over the rich earth. Many of the vines were as old or older than he. The best grapes were the offspring of many graftings, the tedious intertwining of related varieties. No one outside the Horry family knew of the delicate and secret combinations essential to the final aging of his reds and whites.

His were a regular request to the table of King Louis, who heralded the Horry wines as some of the best he had ever experienced. In passing through Charenton once, the Sun King detoured from his travel to stroll through the vineyards and the wine cellar of the proud winemaker. From that day Horry regularly shipped wooden casks of wine by boat to the royal palace.

Not secondary to the wine, the family also ran the local inn – The White Stallion. Horry, larger than life, amply packed the atmosphere as host and entertainer to his guests, filling their plates with the extraordinary cooking of his wife, their glasses with his superb wine, and their humors with his epic tales designed to climax in great hilarity. He was gifted, as well, with a deep resounding singing voice, able to be heard even above a great host of singers. His repertoire of ditties and hymns was a vast as his size.

Madelaine, Jean’s wife, was the cook and manager of the inn. Her breads and deserts and stews knew no equal in the area. She devoted her efforts to the satisfaction of her guests, and her admiration and love to her husband. She was petite, with short shorn auburn hair and bright blue eyes. Her motions were efficient and purposeful, and she rarely rested from her work. She was last to bed and first to rise.

Elias, playfully called Elye, was thin like his mother but tall like his father. He sported a thin, blonde curly beard on his chin, and a pencil mustache. He face was chiseled and handsome, without blemish. He, too, was blue-eyed – and carried an innocent, yet-to-be-sullied demeanor. He worked hard at those industries his father neglected (which were many), and he had grown strong and hard as a result.

The inn was nearly always at capacity. Guests ranged from travelers to and from Paris, to those who had come to Charenton because of the asylum, which was the undesired repository for relatives suffering from damaged minds and spirits. Some guests came to Charenton because of the Huguenot temple located along the Marne there. It was the closest Huguenot church to Paris, as no Protestant churches were allowed within five leagues of the city. Its renowned pastor, Jean Claude, rotated with his two associate pastors in addressing often more than four thousand parishioners during several services held on Sundays. The faithful walked or came by boat along both the Seine and the Marne, travelling great distances. Jean Horry was himself a deacon for the church, and he and his wife provided the elements for weekly communion, a not-so-simple endeavor, given the large numbers. Horry often challenged Mons. Claude as to whether it was the wine and bread, or the preaching, that drew the large numbers. “Both are alive and able to draw all manner of men unto Him,” was the wise reply of the pastor. “Touché,” Horry would return with a broad smile.

However they came to Charenton, all had heard of the much-touted inn and its proprietor, Jean Horry. Unfortunately, that included the draggonades.

>> Chapter III

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One Response to “The Huguenots. Chapter II”

  1. Nathaniel Schoen January 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Some genuinely great posts on this web site , appreciate it for contribution.

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