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Paresseuse

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You don’t need me to tell you about our wedding-night.  Either you know the facts of life or you don’t.  But I will say that what most surprised me as a married woman was that I didn’t feel at all guilty about lying in bed as late in the morning as I cared to, at least before the baby.  The baby was, I suppose, inevitable, and of course very welcome, but…there was a delicious time when I had nothing to feel responsible for if I didn’t want to. The Revolution was going well in those days.

Camille’s friends always call him lazy and you might think he slept late every day too, but he was and is usually up before me.  There was one morning…oh, we’d been married a week, ten days…when I was watching him hunt for his stockings.  I had hidden them.  He looked over his shoulder at me.  “Ah, I thought you were still asleep, little cat.”

“Mm, no.”  (And here I yawned gracelessly, you can see already we were learning to be married.)  “No, I’ve been awake half an hour at least.  I don’t sleep well, two to a bed.”

“Oh, you get used to it.”  After a second he had the good grace to look flustered, to blush perceptibly even in the dim light.  “That is—I’ve shared lodgings with friends—men...”  That didn’t really help as much as he meant it to: I had heard once, listening at a door, a friend of my mother’s, sly, Parisienne par excellence, trying to be clever: Oh, him? He prefers boys. Or should I say, he prefers men, he’s so young after all and I suppose he’ll be pretty for another year or two yet.  That was long before he asked me to marry him… I relented after a few more seconds of stammering: “You’re ten years older than me, Camille.  I know that. I didn’t imagine you were a virgin.”  (Again, you see, the liberties a married woman can take.)

He settled back into bed with me and pressed my wrist to his lips. “Lucile, for you, I wish I—”  “Nonsense.”  Because you see, he looked genuinely distressed.  Whatever I wanted from this conversation it wasn’t that.  “Anyway, the royalist journals say I’ve gone to bed with half the men in Paris.  I saw that poem about Sylvain, you didn’t hide it nearly well enough.  Why do you keep all their papers?”

This time the flustered look took a little longer to appear.  I studied his face.  “You’re trying not to laugh.”  “Oh, no, Lucile, I—” “You.  Are trying not to laugh.”  “I could talk to them, tell them to stop—”

At that, we both laughed, me more with relief than humor, I think.  “I thought it was amusing.”  I’m not sure which of us said it first.  This time the laughter was better.  “How did it go?  That poem?  ‘He strikes his brow—’” “‘He tears his brow, he hates the day—’” “‘But Lucile appeases him—’” “Mm, yes, how did that work?”

I hated all those scribblings in the papers, about my supposed insatiability, about my mother and Terray, all of it…later, when I thought more about it, later, when I had to manage our political socializing and I realized how tiring it is to be public property.  Then I hated it.  And now it comes back again, though this time the slander is worse: they reproach Camille with having married a wealthy woman.  And we aren't even so wealthy as all that, if they could see our odd cluttered rooms. Do they begrudge us our mismatched glassware? My piano? What? But the attention was such a novelty then, just like lazing about in our bed until noon and beyond.