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Into The World

‘This enthralling novel is extraordinarily rich in historical detail . . .
Stephanie Parkyn vividly brings this world to life. Marie-Louise was
possibly the first European woman to visit Van Diemen’s Land, but
her amazing story encompasses so much more than this fact. Highly
recommended.’ —Good Reading
‘Into the World is written by an author with a passionate knowledge
of the subject matter and genre they’re writing in . . . an interesting
and enjoyable debut that will have readers anticipating the author’s
next novel.’ —Books+Publishing
‘I was swept away by the suspenseful storytelling as Marie-Louise
battles not only the sea, but her self-confidence and self-respect, the
attentions of suspicious sailors, and heart-sickness at leaving behind
her child. Parkyn deftly builds in themes of loss and discovery, of
rebellion and betrayal, of love and duty, delivering a tale that lingers.’
—The Blurb Magazine
‘An entertaining debut . . . The details of the expedition and the
frictions between the mariners, naturalists and scientists run close
to truth, and the narrative is written in an easy style with enough
intrigue, adventure and romance to keep you turning the pages.’
—Historical Novel Society
‘Into the World is a solid example of how fact and fiction can be
expertly sewn together to create one vivid historical adventure
tale . . . Stephanie Parkyn is one very talented storyteller!’
—Mrs B’s Book Reviews
‘A well told tale of a fascinating woman and an intriguing and
sometimes terrifying journey on the sea. Stephanie Parkyn is to be
congratulated on her first novel, one which is sure to find a wide, and
satisfied audience.’ —The Mercury
‘For those who love historical fiction, this is a must-read.’
—Latitude Magazine

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Josephine’s Garden

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are used
fictitiously or are products of the author’s imagination.

First published in 2019

Copyright © Stephanie Parkyn 2019

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in

any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior
permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or 10 per cent of this book, whichever
is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational
purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has
given a remuneration notice to the Copyright Agency (Australia) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin

83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100
Email: info@allenandunwin.com
Web: www.allenandunwin.com

A catalogue record for this

book is available from the
National Library of Australia

ISBN 978 1 76052 983 3

Set in 12.6/17.8 pt Garamond Premier Pro by Bookhouse, Sydney

Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press, part of Ovato

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The paper in this book is FSC® certified.

FSC® promotes environmentally responsible,
socially beneficial and economically viable
management of the world’s forests.

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Winter 1810

letter carried by a swift horse never brings welcome news.

A From a first-floor window, Rose recognises Bonaparte’s
courier as his horse scatters the gravel of her path, and shatters
the peace of Malmaison. She does not wait; she takes a tiny spiral
staircase with quick steps and pushes out through a side door of
the château and into her garden. The shock of the winter air is
brutal. She runs across the lawn, her silk slippers made sodden by
the damp grass and a cold wind pushing at her back. My garden
will protect me, Rose thinks as she runs towards the dark hedge of
rhododendrons, their glossy leaves held stiff like shields.
Rose reaches her favourite bench beside the pond and finds it
splattered with bird filth. For a moment she is torn, but she bunches
her velvet skirt to her thighs and turns to sit heedless of her fine
clothes. She flinches as a brown, cartwheeling leaf glances off her
head. The wind is spiteful today. See, Hortense, she complains to
her daughter in her thoughts, even nature turns against me. In her
mind’s eye her daughter shakes her head. You always think the worst,
Maman. Nearby, a tiered fountain sends water cascading over its

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rims and Rose is not surprised when the wind picks up the spray
and spits it in her face.
On any other day the weeping willows would be draping their
fingertips into the lake and her graceful swans would sail serenely
alongside one another, but today the bullying wind has kept them
from the water. Untroubled by the chill wind, the four stone women
sitting at the base of the fountain continue to dip their toes into
the water, their naked skin so smooth and unmarked by age, their
faces unblemished by the ravages of loss. These women will remain
forever in their youth, Rose thinks with an irrational pang of jeal-
ousy. They will not know the pain of longing for the impossible.
Many times Rose has been soothed by the peace of this corner
of her garden. Years ago, she had draped herself across the mossy
stones, wildflowers bursting at her feet, while Prud’hon sketched.
His painting showed her skin as white and clear and flawless
as a marble statue. She had looked both as old as antiquity and as
youthful as a nymph. Bonaparte admired it greatly. Rose remembers
how it had made her cry to see herself look so timeless against the
ancient rocks of her garden.
She glances up towards the house. Her view of the château from
this vantage is achingly beautiful. She has a warm face, Rose thinks,
with her sunny stone walls and perfect symmetry. Even on this
forbidding day it cheers her to look upon her home. No matter that
some have sneered and called her plain and small; Malmaison will
always be her dearest friend.
Inside, her courtiers will be waiting for her to return. They no
doubt pluck their sleeves and wring their hands while watching from
the windows. They will be anxious at my strange behaviour. Why

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Josephine’s Garden

am I not inside on this cold day, with my needlework warming my

lap? Why did I run from the courier?
An emu struts across the lawn, its heavy thatch of feathers
disturbed by the breeze. She remembers when she first laid eyes
on the bizarre creature. Its startling head on that long hairy neck.
She had clung to Bonaparte as the bird took its first gangly steps
with those preposterous long legs. How happy Bonaparte had been
that summer. Those were days filled with wonder and joy, with
music and plays and entertainments on the lawn. If she could have
halted time, if she could’ve held them both in that idyllic moment,
protected by the gentle embrace of her gardens, perhaps everything
would’ve been different.
Rose looks out through the soft foliage of her evergreens to the
distant hills. No one else has a garden such as this. On a grassy slope,
she watches a zebra find warmth within a herd of Swiss cows. She
sees the exotic wattles growing alongside the oaks, the hebes among
hydrangeas. My garden is unique in all the world, Rose thinks with
a jolt of pride. My plants and animals have come from all the corners
of the globe, all taken from their homes but able to grow and prosper
in peace. In my garden, I have created harmony. Gradually she feels
her anxiousness begin to ease. Her garden always has the power to
restore her. Whatever news Bonaparte has sent, she is determined
it cannot hurt her here.
The wind rises in a gust and the last of winter’s dry leaves, curled
like claws, smack against her skirts. The wind is a broom, she thinks.
Out, old leaves, old spent leaves. They skid and trip and tumble,
powerless to stop themselves. Rose picks one up and presses it to
her breast.

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A figure is coming towards her from the house. A man. She

frowns, puzzled, as it is not Moustache, Bonaparte’s courier. His
head is down, watching his feet. As he draws closer, she recognises
Félix Lahaie, her chief gardener. He carries a letter in his hand.
Ha. So they send my friend to break the news. She feels her
anxiety return and clasps her hands together for strength. The peace
her garden has given her is gone.
Félix coughs as he approaches. Rose sees pity in his face and it
does her no good.
‘Empress Josephine,’ Félix says.
‘Don’t call me that.’ Her tone is sharper than she intends, but
it is too late to take it back. ‘I will not be his Josephine any longer.
I will not use the name he dictated for me.’
Félix stares at her, his soft face folding in sadness. ‘Empress.’
She grunts. Not that. Not now. ‘My name is Rose.’ She tilts her
chin upwards.
Félix holds out the letter but she refuses to take it.
‘Tell me,’ she commands him, aware that her tone is still too
harsh. She has never spoken this way with him before. But the
thorns are a necessary protection.
‘I cannot open it,’ Félix says.
‘What do they say?’ She nods towards the house. ‘What are
they whispering? I need to know, and you are the only one who
will tell me.’
Félix looks pained. It is cruel of Rose to do this to him, but she
has to know the rumours.
He speaks to his shoes. ‘They say the Emperor is to remarry.’

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Josephine’s Garden

Her breath catches. ‘So soon?’ she whispers. The sky is a glaring
grey and it hurts her eyes to look up at it. She feels the tears sting
but will not let them fall.
Félix’s hand is shaking. Rose takes the letter from him, loath to
read the message, yet she opens it.
Bonaparte’s scrawl blurs before her. ‘My eyes are bad,’ she says
to Félix. ‘You will have to read it for me.’
Félix takes back the letter and reads to himself. His lips are
‘Speak up,’ she urges. ‘Who did he choose?’
‘It does not say,’ Félix replies carefully.
‘But you know. You all know. Haven’t they been talking about
it behind my back?’ She looks towards Malmaison and her ladies-
in-waiting, her courtiers, all gathered at the windows, watching.
‘The Austrian princess,’ he murmurs.
To have it confirmed is a blade between her ribs. The tears come
despite her resolve. Félix tactfully turns away. The eighteen-year-old.
Nubile, fertile, ripe. She will give him what I could not.
Heat rushes through her. Bonaparte arranged this long before he
asked me for a divorce, she realises. He would have spent months
deliberating over the options, drooling like a child at the window
of a sweet shop, asking advice from those treacherous men who
pretend to be her friends, listening to the poisonous whispers of
his family. Rose breathes rapidly, noisily. Many times she has felt
despair, but never this white-hot fury.
On the path before her, spring is forcing itself through the
crushed gravel. New leaves. The first flush of growth. Rose bends
over and rips the slender stems out.

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Félix clears his throat. ‘The Emperor thinks it best if you. . . if

you are not here when . . . He wants you to leave before his marriage.’
‘Leave?’ Her voice is shrill. ‘Leave my home?’ She reels back,
looking out over her parklands to her glasshouses, her nurseries, her
woods. Rose feels herself spinning. She feels as brittle as the fallen
leaves, picked up and swirled helplessly by the wind. I want to die
here, Rose thinks. I want to lie down in the garden beds and let my
plants devour me. How dare he take my home from me?
She snatches the paper from Félix’s hand. She cannot call it a
letter; it is short, brusque, without tenderness. Nothing like his
usual missives. He offers no proof of his enduring love. No longing
to see her. She reads the date that he has commanded her to leave:
25 March 1810.
Mere days away. This cannot be.
‘So the new queen will be jealous and I am to be exiled.’
‘He suggests the house at Navarre,’ Félix says.
‘Does he,’ she spits.
It shouldn’t surprise her that he is still capable of inflicting pain,
but it does. All his promises, all his declarations of esteem. I need
you near me, he had said. You will have Malmaison. You will always
be close to me. Lies. All despicable lies.
‘Château Navarre is a ruin. It has no garden. Only swamp.’
‘A project?’ Félix offers.
‘My project is here.’
This was far worse than she had ever imagined. He will take all
my achievements from me, she thinks suddenly. As though none of
it was mine. As though I was never here.
From the first moment she spied this crumbling mansion and
its wild English garden, Rose knew she must have it. The house

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Josephine’s Garden

called to her. It needed love and nurturing and had withered from
neglect. For more than a decade she has given her whole heart to
this house and garden. It has brought her joy and comforted her in
sorrow. Over the years she has made Malmaison one of the most
celebrated gardens in Europe. She brought the wonders of the
world to France and gave her visitors excitement and marvels. Her
gardeners germinated seeds that even the Jardin des Plantes could
not, and she commissioned artists to illustrate volumes of her flora
and share her successes. I have done all that, not Bonaparte, she
thinks. This garden is her legacy. Yet he could take it from her so
easily, so heartlessly.
Now it burns her throat to think that, without her here, those
men of the Jardin des Plantes will descend on her treasures. How
quickly they will come. She imagines the disdainful Jacques
Labillardière wrenching her plants from one another, hating their
close entanglements of stem and leaf and flowers, making them
sit in dutiful rows. She sees the twining green stems of her violet
sweet peas dragged from her New Holland forget-me-nots. He is
a man who cares nothing for beauty and harmony, only order and
structure. She despairs to think of him ransacking her glasshouses.
As if he reads her mind, Félix looks towards the glassed nurseries
and Rose follows his longing gaze. Together, he and his wife, Anne,
had achieved so much. Does he wonder where his family will go if
I am sent away? What will become of his life’s work?
Rose makes her decision. She claws the jewels from her neck,
throws the chain to Félix. ‘Give this to Anne. Tell her she can have
anything she might desire. I need none of it.’
The diamonds and pearls hang from his rough hand.

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She strips off her satin gloves, revealing her bare skin, and pulls
all the rings from her fingers, holding them out for Félix. ‘Tell the
servants to empty my wardrobes. Give away all the dresses, jewels,
shoes, everything I own.’ None of it means anything. She will show
him. It is Malmaison only that matters.
‘Is the courier still here?’ The stone seat is hard and cold, but
small acts of defiance are all she has left. Her hands grip the edges
of the seat and her arms stiffen.
Félix nods.
‘Send word to Bonaparte. I will not leave.’
Félix looks startled. ‘He will not like it.’
Rose shrugs. ‘A pity. If he wants to banish me because his new
fiancée wishes it, let him come and tell me himself. I will not move.
I will not move from this seat.’
Félix looks up to the threatening sky. ‘But it might rain.’
‘Then I shall get wet.’
Rose kicks off her slippers and digs her toes into the earth.

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Rose de Beauharnais

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Summer 1794

ose de Beauharnais squinted at the light, blinking against the

R sting of sudden brightness. She took her first uncertain steps
down the flagstone stairway and onto the street. Thérésa was beside
her, holding her up, and they were walking. All around her men and
women stumbled out of the prison. All were quiet, stunned. Her
head felt muffled and she could hear the rasp of her own breathing
loud in her ears. Rose looked up to the sky, her eyes streaming, the
bright blue stretching away without end. She drank it up.
And then noise. Screams of recognition. Families reuniting.
Suddenly, Tallien was there and pulling Thérésa away from her. Rose
watched her friend embrace him. The lovers pressed so completely
together that no space, no light could come between them. Rose
wiped her eyes and thought of Lazare Hoche. They had come for
him weeks ago. Now she prayed he had survived long enough to
have been spared. The hope was a bright flash in her heart.
Rose ran trembling fingers over her rough shorn head. Only
that morning, the guard had come to take her mattress. ‘No need
for that where you’re going.’ A lascivious sneer from a man who’d
found a better place for himself in a world turned over. That mattress


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signified her life. The guard would give it to a new inmate and she
would be carted out of Les Carmes prison and made to kneel before
the blade. Rose had panicked, pleaded, offered herself. She was not
proud of it but there it was; when faced with death she knew now
that she would cling to life. It did no good. He took her first and
then the mattress.
Afterwards, she took a knife to her hair. She wondered if she
would be brave. If she would be as stoic as her friends were at the
end and leave her cell with a cheerful wave of farewell. A good death
was the only thing left to hope for and her pride begged her to have
courage. But she shook so much that the blunt knife caught the tip
of her ear and sent droplets of blood splashing onto her neck and
breasts. They would take her head, she had thought as she sawed
at her hair, she could do nothing to stop that now, but she would
not let her hair be worn by another. Small victories.
And then Thérésa was swinging back the cell door, lifting
Rose to her feet, laughing and crying. ‘We are free, we are free!’ Rose
struggled to make sense of it, but slowly she began to understand. On
the day of her execution she was to be saved. She fell into Thérésa’s
arms. They would live.
Now, the streets swarmed. Rose swayed while the bodies knocked
against her like rocks tumbling in a landslide. People were frantic,
calling for their loves, while behind her Les Carmes continued to
spill its horde. Her children! Rose felt her heart push blood into
her limbs. She tottered forward, focusing now on the street, on her
route home. Thérésa caught her hand. She was smiling, her beau-
tiful face alight with joy. ‘Come with us!’ she cried. ‘All the world
is rejoicing!’


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Josephine’s Garden

Thérésa. The burning light of these dark days. In prison, when

fear was ripe in their sweat and loud in the howls of their night
terrors, Thérésa refused to be afraid. Her words were fire and her
body crackled with spirit. She could not be doused. She was our hope.
Rose gripped her friend’s hand, wanting to let her know how
much she had mattered to her, how Thérésa’s strength had kept
her alive all these weeks, but when she opened her mouth to
speak, her throat was as dry as dust.
Three months she had been imprisoned in Les Carmes, sentenced
to death for nothing more than being the ex-wife of an accused
man. Her former husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, had been
named as a traitor even though he worked for the Revolution. She
had no love for Alexandre, who had been cold and cruel to her, but
he was still the father of her children. When he was arrested she
had written to the president of the National Convention to beg for
clemency. She should have known Robespierre trusted no one in
these times—not even men like Alexandre, who were close to him.
Robespierre had already sent his former Jacobin friends, Hébert,
Danton, Desmoulins, to the guillotine during this Reign of Terror.
Men who had been heroes of the Revolution. Paranoia and suspicion
now ruled France. Her letter begging for her ex-husband’s release
had only put her in prison.
Everyone in Les Carmes had a similar tale and she soon exhausted
her rage at the injustice. Named by jealous or fearful neighbours, it
was accuse or be accused. The world as she knew it had gone mad.
At least her children were safe with Alexandre’s father. How
would she have borne this fate if they had been left destitute? All
through this nightmare her children had sent her messages carried
by her faithful pug, Fortu. It was like a dream to see him that first


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time. Unbelievable. Rose recognised his cheerful bark demanding

attention, heard his obvious delight at finding her inside the prison
walls. She snatched him up, pressed her face to his fur, let him lick
her cheeks. She found the notes from her children under his collar.
They loved her, they missed her. She saw their small and carefully
formed words and treasured them. Do not fear for me, she wrote back
to Hortense and Eugene, I am well. I have as much bread as I can
stomach. I embrace you both from the bottom of my heart. She had
kissed Fortu, his dear face permanently folded in worried frowns.
Then tucked the note beneath his collar and sent him running out
through the bars of the prison.
Families were embracing all around her. People were lifting their
sons and daughters in the air and children were wrapping their arms
and legs around their parents, squeezing tight. Rose pushed against
the crowd in the street, desperate to see her children, wanting to run.
Eugene was thirteen and Hortense eleven, still young enough to need
their mother. Especially now. Five days ago, five days before these
prison gates were opened, Alexandre had been executed. Their father
was dead and she was all they had now. She needed to get home.
Home. Where would that be? she wondered. Her apartment
had been taken on her arrest and she had no doubt her home and
all her furniture and belongings were lost to her. Could she return
to Alexandre’s father’s house, the home that held so few happy
memories from her early marriage, and live with his family once
again? No. That part of her life was behind her. She was no longer
that naive child sent to marry a man she had never met and who
did not care a jot for her. She would find another way to support
her children.


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Josephine’s Garden

Out in the street the light was hard, falling into every crack,
exposing her ravaged body to the world. She must look like a drab
with her clothes unwashed and her body smelling like a gutter. Her
face stared back from a greasy windowpane and she barely recognised
herself: skin blotched with sores, her eyes sunken, hair gone. She let
Thérésa pull her away from the reflection. How could she let her
children see her like this? They would be terrified.
In this unforgiving light, she saw more clearly the once-fine
clothes of her fellow prisoners—the muck-stained skirts, the ruined
slippers—made dreary by the prison squalor. Outside the prison,
Paris looked as bleak and neglected as Rose felt. Along the roadside
were stinking piles of rubbish, unswept manure and dirt-spattered
walls. She felt the smashed cobblestones beneath her feet. Her gaze
fell on a tiny violet growing against a wall, a seed dropped by acci-
dent and finding a crevice with enough sustenance to grow. She
stopped and stared, letting the wave of prisoners jostle against her.
It cheered her to see bright green leaves and purple flowers amid all
the dull stone. This plant, too, had survived against all likelihood
and found a way to bloom.
She had lost hold of Thérésa’s hand. Her friend danced ahead,
kissing men and women, spinning about like a child’s playing top.
Rose moved towards her, drawn as always to the whirlwind that was
Thérésa Cabarrus, but a big man in a long, curling wig cut in front
of her. He embraced Tallien, pounding the young man’s back. He
kissed Thérésa, and then turned to Rose, picking her up as though
she were as weightless as a twig and as helpless to resist. He swirled
her about. She felt dizzy. She did not recognise this man, but he was
smiling as he set her down. ‘You are safe now,’ he murmured in her
ear. He smelled of perfumed leather and pipe smoke.


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Thérésa pulled Rose from him. ‘They have overthrown

Robespierre! He has tried to shoot himself to escape the guillotine!’
Thérésa was laughing, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Rose choked on the sand of her tongue. She needed water. Her
lips cracked and stung as she tried to cheer. What did this mean
for her?
The big man smiled kindly at her. ‘Come.’ He swept an arm
about her, not waiting for her assent.
‘This is the Vicomte de Barras,’ Tallien told her, brimming with
pride. ‘Together we are the new Republic!’
Rose could scarcely believe it. These ordinary men had replaced
Robespierre and the National Convention. They had replaced the
monarchy. Tallien looked no more than twenty-five years with his
earnest, narrow face and bony nose. This young man and his friend
were the new rulers of France?
The Vicomte steered Rose towards a tavern. She pulled back
for a moment, hesitant, the old rules hard to overcome. The tavern
was not the sort of place a bourgeois woman was supposed to enter.
Besides, she wanted to see her children, to feel them in her arms, to
know they were safe. Yet the thought of their shocked faces at the
sight of her gave her pause. She could not decide what to do, her
mind would not focus. She was dizzy and her throat was parched.
‘One drink,’ Barras murmured. ‘To celebrate.’
She sensed that from this moment everything would change. The
Revolution had changed her. Life could not be taken for granted.
She had known the terrors of an open prison and she had done what
was necessary to survive. When Barras again urged her to follow
him, she did not resist.


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Josephine’s Garden

Les Carmes had stripped her of everything, starved her, humili-

ated her. But it had also given her love for the first time in her life.
It had given her Lazare Hoche. Nothing would be the same now
that she had known what it was to be loved.
Thérésa squeezed Rose’s hand and the two women shared a
moment in each other’s gaze. Les Carmes had also given her Thérésa,
who had such spirit, such joy of life. Rose felt overwhelming grat-
itude for this friendship and it welled in her eyes. Thérésa took Rose’s
hand and pressed her knuckles briefly to her lips before attaching
herself to Tallien, kissing him long and hard and leaving Rose under
Barras’s arm. Together they found a table and Barras ordered a carafe
of wine. All around her, the freed prisoners and their families began
to sing, raising their voices together in solidarity.
Barras was staring at her boldly, a gleam in his blue-grey eyes
and a playful smirk in his smile. His face was not handsome but
his confidence made him attractive, she decided. A  man who
knew his own worth.
She averted her eyes and turned her face to its best advantage.
Old habits. She hoped her flush of embarrassment had brought
colour to her cheeks. Barras continued to stare, undeterred by her
shattered looks, or perhaps compelled by them. She was vulnerable
now and he seemed like a man who liked his women needful.
Rose turned to Thérésa. ‘What happened? Is the Terror truly over?’
‘The Revolution is complete,’ Barras answered. ‘A new democratic
era is dawning for France.’
‘Vive la République!’ cried Tallien.
‘Barras will take care of us,’ Thérésa whispered to Rose.
Rose studied the man before her. He was dressed elegantly in
sumptuous fabrics that were well tailored. His age was perhaps


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forty years, she guessed. There was something in his manner that
reminded her of M. Blanque, her father’s overseer on their plant-
ation in Martinique. A memory came back to her and she closed
her eyes. She pictured M. Blanque after the hurricane, when they
had squeezed out of the basement of the sugar house on a day of
utter devastation. Rose had been three years old and convinced
that a giant had screamed and roared and stomped for two days
while they hid in the sugar house. Once, during the howling, she
had peered out through a crack in the shutters to see the giant steal
their house cow, lifting her high into the air before flinging her back
to earth. When at last her family had crawled out, everything was
flat: the palm trees, the sugar cane, the slaves—all lay where the
giant had tossed them. She saw splintered white wood where their
house had been and the bodies of their slaves lying on the lawns.
Her mother and sisters were weeping, her father absent in Fort Royal
with his mistress, and M. Blanque, standing amid it all, hands on
his hips with his feet spread and planted in the earth, as solid and
dependable as a mighty mahogany tree.
Rose was jolted from her memories as the carafe of wine was
delivered. Her eyes followed Barras’s hand as he began to pour for
her and she noticed the size of his ruby ring. Red wine splashed into a
glass. She watched the liquid with longing, her tongue remembering
the flavour. Barras tipped the carafe while keeping his eyes fixed
on her. He poured and poured. He filled her cup to the brim and
continued to pour. Startled, she met his gaze. He grinned, lifting his
eyebrows, and she found it made her smile. She did not tell him to
stop. The wine gushed over the rim of the glass, splashing over the
tabletop and swilling into a red pool that threatened to waterfall
to the floor. She laughed with the delight of such excess, not caring


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Josephine’s Garden

that the liquor spilled from the table and stained her dress. Barras
emptied the whole of the carafe into her glass and licked the last
drops from his fingers.
Barras offered the glass to Rose. ‘To new beginnings, Mme de
Beauharnais. And fulfilling our hearts’ desires.’
She understood his meaning perfectly. Without hesitation, she
accepted the cup and drank.


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