Word Count 499
Laurel Doves – Chapter 11
By Sharon Collins
Giselle’s whinny broke the pre-dawn silence. Five bald heads poked out of their blankets . Giselle tossed and repeated what could only be described as the frightened whinny of a colt.
“Oh no, she is whinnying again!” yawned Lisette.
“What do you mean?” demanded Hélène, pulling her blanket over her head, chilly without her bright red ringlets.
“When she came to us, she barely spoke during the day. But, mon Dieu, in her dreams, she never stopped. Our Miri, who can speak to animals, could not understand Giselle’s horse language. None of the Gitan gathered at the festival of Sainte Sarah could.”
“How did she learn to speak horse?” asked Marie-Claude, shrugging back her woolen blanket despite the chill. Always the little mother, she tiptoed to Giselle and tucking the blanket closer, soothed her fretful dream.
“Our Miri, believes she learned from Les Gardiens of the salt marshes of the Carmargue and herd the white horses and black bulls. They can speak the horse language. Their Leader brought Giselle to Miri at the festival. They found baby Giselle among the yearling horses. Although they are wild and hard to tame, the horses did not hurt her! She was all alone, no mother, no father, no name. Les Gardians are all men, and although they tried for a long while, they could not tend a growing girl-child, so they decided to bring her to Our Miri!” finished Lisette with a bounce.
“How did they know her name? “ piped Virginie. Giselle’s story was striking hard in her equally-orphaned heart and though very shy, she managed to whisper the longest sentences of her young life. “Reverend Mother named me Marie Virginie for Mother Mary because I was passed through the convent wall on her feast day, August 15th. Why do you suppose Les Gardiens named her so? Is there a Sainte Giselle?”
Geneviève, who had learned of Giselle’s strange background from Père Jean, answered. “Giselle comes from a very old word that means shared obligation. Les Gardiens shared the duty of keeping Giselle safe until they gave her to the Miri, who shared her care with Père Jean and all of us. So you see, it is a perfect name.”
While the girls quietly discussed this tantalizing new mystery, Geneviève wondered if she should reveal the rest of Giselle’s story. Deciding yes, she began again…”Miri told Père Jean another piece of information about Giselle that Lisette does not know. It explains why she too is une petite colombe, one of Père Jean’s Little Doves. When Les Gardiens discovered Giselle, she was wearing a green dress and a red cape embroidered with the word ‘Demori.’ And, she was playing with a little dove carved from the wood of a laurel tree. She, like each of us, is of The Way and must be kept safe. That’s why Père Jean brought us here, to hide us in plain sight. That sullen, old Pope would never look for heretics in a convent,” she giggled.