Friday, December 21, 2012

Jogging With Roussel 17


From the diary of Florent Lauwerys:
Chaos reinvents its carapace of flowers.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the last time Mother and I went to Locus Solus to see poor Father’s reanimated ordeal at the hands of the Griko bandit Grocco in the hills of the Aspromonte in Calabria. As a child I never understood the full irony of Father’s story, for those misplaced Greeks in the rocks, in a church like a ruin lived in the heel of the boot of Italy (the heels!) and though Father always said they were the true Gracchi of the Griko, I never quite forgave them, though in a funny way, they saved his life, and brought about a miracle in my own, namely, the meeting of my beloved Henrietta Bréger, the very daughter of our benefactor Evangeline Bréger, who had married into an odd branch of the Castine family, the family of Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin, the subject of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem of much fame.
 It seems Christine Castine, an unknown daughter of Baron Castine by his Penobscot wife Pidianske married one Gustave Bréger of  Béarn who was an historian and collector of rare antiquities, and an expert numismatist. Christine was some-thing of a family secret as she was born with a peculiar defect which rendered her lot in social life rather precarious in those times, and even today. Christine had been born without the benefit of nose. Gustave Bréger, a Jansenist man of impeccable grace, intelligence, compassion and practicality had met the woman quite by accident while involved in the evaluation of a horde of Écu which the Baron had discovered while renovating his family’s somewhat dilapidated Chateau, long disused in his journeys to the American continent.


During the rebuilding of one of the chateau’s many crumbling chimneys, a large piece of brick had fallen from above, and hit an irregular brick within the chimney’s interior, that brick having been displaced slowly over a few hundred years by the weight of the hoard of Écu whose hiding place in the wall of an upper bedroom had never been detected. When the bricks collided, the horde was released, and the sound of tinkling coins echoed through rooms where the Baron was reading. Calling in Bréger to evaluate the horde, Baron Castine unwittingly set in motion a surprising series of events.
 It is somewhat widely known that the Baron Castine, although renowned for his savagery and exploits with the Abenaki Indians of New France was a devout Catholic. What is not widely known is that during his years of hardship and conflict, the Baron’s faith had been greatly attenuated, and he had become, though not unkind in any way, a bit of an apostate, and the birth of his deformed daughter did nothing to reverse the gathering pongeur within his flagging, haggard spirit.
Christine Chastine, although afflicted with a terrible, though mostly cosmetic burden, bore her lot lightly, and was a delightful person, a collector in her own right, and a talented artist of glass lamp-working, and jewelry, who, though somewhat fetishistically involved in the production of glass noses of ever-increasing complexity, made a perfect partner for the young Gustave Bréger whose nose was, it could be said, was rather freakishly large, possibly the product of his twisted Saxon-Merovingian ancestry, which they all partook of in some relative sense, with the exception of  Pidianske, the wife of Baron Castine. The match of Christine and Gustave had a certain Port-Royal logic to it, especially as extends to the art of kissing, for in his ‘nose column’ there was certain ‘credit’, and within hers, a certain ‘debit’, and the removal of her prosthesis within the privacy of their intimate relations became an item of singular eroticism, as both of these wonderful young people were beleaguered by a certain haunted magnetism to the strange and beautiful.          
Feeling deep pity and angst for the plight of his daughter, and seeing how well the two young persons in the flower of their youth got along, Baron Castine decided to make a dowry of the hoard of Écu to the young couple and they married straight away, deciding to honey-moon in the lands of the Auvergne, near the old site of Nemossos, where Gaulish Avernie had once stood.
Deciding that the felicitous manner of the discovery of the hoard of Écu was somehow an echo of their physical states, and being that Blaise Pascal was born near there, they decided to bury one of the loveliest coins of the hoard, an ‘écu a la chaise’ of the 14th century in the shady grove where they first made love. It was this very coin that my mother Clotilde found as a child, and which served as the powder for the gilt text in the blank endpapers of the Erebi Glossarium a Ludovico Toljano inscribed with a rose’s thorn in what were to be the last days of my Father’s life before he was saved by the charity of  Evangeline Bréger, the grand-daughter in-law of Gustave and Christine Bréger. Buried underfoot, this healing coin would have a life of its own, and the spirit of those two lovers would continue to resound, and today I have returned to the very spot where it was originally exhumed by my mother to rebury it joined by my wife Henrietta Bréger, in a grove at the end of a lane near the old castle called Clarus Mons.