Mathilde Alanic: Shine! (part twenty-four)
“A story from the time of the Revolution?” said Annie, startled. “Ah, monsieur, my ignorance would shout from every page.”
“Build your world by intuition. Historians as well as sleuths are guided by it. Souls of all eras have been the same; merely look for the wellspring of Alban’s acts, the secret to his dogged efforts. And nothing will be better for you than to immerse yourself in local color. You’re pale, anemic. Use your vacation to visit this corner of Bretagne…you will profit physically as well as mentally. You have a little money?”
“Thanks to my earnings, I haven’t touched my legacy!” Annie said—a declaration of pride.
“Why,” answered Patrice with comical respect, “my compliments! With royalties from the Voix de Paris, you will soon be wealthy. Go to Bretagne, to Elven, to Kergrist, since you’ve been invited there. I’ll be going too…in speaking of the dear country, the wish grows on me to return. Nowhere else am I so well rested. I must have that inspiring atmosphere to finish my books.”
He reached the door, so saying, and with a gesture enjoined Annie to keep her seat. “Au revoir, Mademoiselle Le Goël! Go to Bretagne! Give thought to my advice and follow it.”
Rapid as was his exit, Patrice, as Annie had predicted, met with a number of boarders, who flattened themselves against the partition, freeing him to pass the narrow corridor. His parting advice to a pupil…as they decided her…having been picked up on the fly, that evening’s table talk roved solely the Armorican peninsula. Everyone called up a memory, recommended an itinerary, pointed to the best hotels. Joanne, Boedeker, Conti, Michelin, all were urged on her.
And Annie, suggestible in her attraction to this dream, wrote next day to the other Mlle Le Goël:
I am Breton, as much in heart as in name. Though I was born at Rennes, more than a century ago my family left Morbihan. I would love to become acquainted with the country of my ancestors. It may be, then, that your kind wish for a meeting will be fulfilled this summer.
If that proves the case, shall I be able to find at Kergrist, or in the area, bed and board at a quiet house—a modest one—where I might stay for several weeks?
After three days, Annik responded:
Our house is very simple, but be assured it is peaceful. My brother is off sailing, and his room is free. We let it often during the season. We would be so happy to have you!
The joyful decision made, Annie went about packing for a long trip, immersed in blue and green visions of dancing boats, standing stones, and cathedral bell towers.
(2020, translation, Stephanie Foster; 1922, Mathilde Alanic, Rayonne!)