Encounter in Honfluer
By Sally Madison
Hiding her face beneath her long dark hooded cloak, in the misty rain, Elizabeth held the small lantern
high to light the path up the hill on the wet cobblestone of Honfluer, to the Church of St. Catherine.
A stranger had seen a glimpse of her face from a short distance, as he was quickly leaving the tavern,
dressed in only his blouse and pantaloons. The darkness hid his presence, until he was as near as her
shadow. “Why is such a beautiful woman venturing on such an ill night?” he spoke in a low voice, as
she turned to enter the church.
She could smell the rum on the pirate’s breath; he was so close to her. The sound of a man, that near, sent
chills to her spine, but she fought the fear in her stomach with the gall of a soldier. She retorted, “If I
stayed enclosed until the sun shone in Honfluer, I should be a very old woman, before I smelled fresh
“There are only two kinds of sinners who would attend St. Catherine at this late hour,” he whispered,
“Those who have recently sinned, and those who intend to sin.”
“Perhaps, I am here to meet a lover,” deflecting her vulnerability.
“And perhaps you just have,” he spoke, low and seductively.
Hearing the raging voice of the tavern owner coming to accost the pirate, Elizabeth’s fear subsided,
knowing that his pursuer provided her safety. The stranger’s presence was so close, she could smell sea
salt on his clothes, and his musky manly scent caught her unexpectedly, arousing an erotic response. ‘To
be with such a man, at another time and place, might be exciting,’ she mused.
His tone changed in their tête-à-tête, as he explained: “The tavern owner has accused me of being with
his daughter; I must leave you for now, but not for ever.”
“There are only two kinds of sinners,” she mocked. “Those who have recently sinned, and those who
intend to sin, and you were willing to come to me, so soon, after such an encounter?”
“For such a woman as you, my passion would raise each hour,” he teased. “But, I am innocent” he
replied, “I have not been with his daughter.” Withdrawing into the night, he bowed a farewell. “It was
his wife!” as he disappeared into the night.
Hiding the lantern under her cloak, she receded into St. Catherine’s, as the pursuer followed the cheeky
Later, Elizabeth emerged from the church, shaking her lowered head side to side in disbelief, thinking, ‘I
swear, I heard a voice saying, I need to amend my superfluous ways? …What ways? My dresses? My
parties? My money? … Deep in thought, she was unaware of her surroundings, until a rag was forced
over her mouth, as she was grabbed from behind, muffling her screams. She fought to break free, when
she heard a deep voice, “Screaming will do you no good, Mademoiselle Elizabeth.” You are in MY