The Second Chance

Chapter 18: The French Guards

The French Guards were an infantry regiment of the Military Household of the King of France. It was created in 1563 and its guardsmen were enlisted among the commoners…

At the French Guards´ barracks…

Oscar and André were in the Commander´s room at the barracks. They were watching out of the window, when they heard a knock on the door…

Oscar:“Come in.” they turned around…

The door opened and an elderly man walked in.

Dagout:“I´m colonel Dagout, the sub-commanding officer of Company B. I´d like to welcome you.”

Oscar:“Thank you very much.”

Dagout:“But, I´ve heard that the inaugural troops review is tomorrow. You´ve come a day early.” he wondered.

Oscar:“Yes. This is our first time in the French Guards, so we wanted to know about the details early. Show us the soldier´s barracks.”

Colonel took Oscar and André to the barracks reluctantly; he was afraid of the reaction from the men, when they would find out that the new Commanding Officer was a woman. And not just any woman, but a married woman…And he was right…the men wouldn´t take it easy…

When they opened the door, the men were lined up nicely…Oscar went inside, while André and the Colonel stood by the door…

Oscar:“I´ll be commanding you starting tomorrow. I´m Oscar François Grandier. My husband, André Grandier, will accompany me. How do you do.”

“Husband? Are you…a woman?!” someone asked her.

Oscar nodded…“Yes. I am.”

Everyone was shocked…She was a woman? “I´m not taking orders from a woman” Oscar heard someone whispering…“She brought her husband along?” someone else wondered…“She is so afraid that she can´t be without him…”

Oscar stepped a few steps forward and said in a clear voice:“If someone has something on his mind, he can tell it outright! Right here and right now!”

Alain took few steps forward and spoke to Oscar…

Alain:“You heard them, we will not obey a woman! Go somewhere else to play home with your husband! This is the French Guards´ barracks and not a playground for an aristocratic couple!”

Oscar got angry:“I do not fear you! André isn´t here to protect me, he´s here to protect you from me!”

Everyone started to laugh…“Pardon me, Madame…” said Alain:“I find that hard to believe! I guess you haven´t heard that Company B is specially known for its roughness! So I suggest you leave before you hurt yourself.”

Oscar:“I don´t mind being rough! So me how rough you are! Let´s see what you can do!”

Alain:“What?!”

Oscar:“Anyone, who think is capable…Come to the Parade ground! Guns or swords, it makes no difference to me!”

Oscar and André left the room and headed towards the Parade ground leaving the men speechless for a while…

Man:“Let´s show her!”

Alain:“She sure has a lot of nerve!”

Man:“Alain, you´re always our representative. Do it! Teach that woman a thing or two!” he threw a sword to Alain…

Alain:“Nope. I´m declining this time. Sorry, my policy is not to take on women.”

Then he took the sword and threw it to the second best swordsman in their company…

Alain:“You do it!” he told the man.

Man:“Is it okay? All right! Let´s go to the Parade ground! Everyone!” he was more than willing to teach that woman commander a lesson or two.

Oscar was already waiting, when the men came to the Parade ground. They gathered around the two competitors…

Oscar:“If I win, you´ll accept us here. If I lose, we´ll leave the French Guards immediately. ”

Man:“Sounds good!”

Then he took a sword from scabbard and so did Oscar…the battle had begun. The man showed his excellent fencing skills…

Oscar:“I see living up to the reputation of being rough. You´re certainly skilled.” she said to him.

The man attacked Oscar, but luckily she managed to dodge it. She jumped from the front to the back, turned around and attacked him. They fought more…Everybody was watching the fierce battle between Oscar and her opponent…Which one would win?

They were both very good…the battle went on, but then…

Oscar wounded the man on his hand; the battle was over and Oscar had won.

The man held his wounded hand and looked angrily at Oscar.

Oscar:“I won.” then she put her sword back into its scabbard, turned around and started to walk away…

Man:“Shit!” he yelled and started to run towards Oscar. He was angry and he wasn´t going to give up so easily. No woman would beat him. When he was about to grab her, she took her sword and pushed him back so that he flew to the ground.

“You bitch!” the men started to yell…“Get her!” they were going to attack her, when Alain stopped them…

Alain:“Wait! Wait everyone! Wait! A promise is a promise. We lost. You can stay here.”

“Okay, Alain. Whatever you think it´s the best.” said the men.

Alain:“However, Madame Commander. Don´t assume that everyone has accepted you.”

Oscar:“We understand.” André came beside her…

Alain:“And one more thing. This is really basic, but we´re not in the army to protect the nobles, or the Royal palace. To be blunt, it´s for our salary, so that we can eat. Keep that in mind, if you will…”

Oscar:“I, too, have something to say to you. Just for you to know; my husband is not a noble, but a commoner just like you. So I know a thing or two about your lives here…”

Alain:“What?! You married a commoner?!”

Oscar:“Yes, the only man I love and trust. I don´t care whether he is a noble or a commoner…Because we are the same.”

Everyone was surprised by her words…

André:“Oscar…” he smiled.

Oscar:“Tomorrow is the inaugural troops review. I want all of you to be there!”

Alain:“All right, we will. But only for that…”

The next day, they were all in the inaugural troops review, Oscar, André and Colonel Dagout were on horseback watching the troop review…Oscar was pleased to see that everyone obeyed her. But that was all they were willing to do…They still didn´t trust her…

Soon, General de Bouille got complaints about her from the men in company B. He called Oscar´s father to talk about the matter…They were talking at his place…

General:“Did you call for me, Your Excellency de Bouille?”

De Bouille was standing by the window looking outside, when he met his guest…“Oh, General de Jarjayes, please come here. How is everything? Going fine?”

General:“Everything is fine, sir.”

De Bouille:“Your son…No, your daughter was transferred to the French Guards, I heard.”

General:“Yes.”

De Bouille:“How is she…I mean, Oscar?”

General:“Well…”

De Bouille:“There is this complicated matter I wish to talk to you about…The soldiers are blatantly expressing their dissatisfaction. Some even wrote letters to His Majesty, saying a woman commander won´t be able to function fully. I´m very concerned…especially now with the French Guards on alert in Paris with a very important mission.”

General:“Your Excellency! My daughter has recently married and should be expecting her first child soon. I´m sure, she´ll quit the military as soon as she´s pregnant.”

De Bouille:“I heard about her marriage…I thought she would have quit the military right after her marriage ceremony…”

General:“You are quite right! I shall talk to her…No, to them both and see that they both quit right away!”

De Bouille:“Is it true, that she married a commoner?”

General:“Yes, André Grandier. But he is no ordinary…He has lived with us many years and can act like a noble…His manners don´t differ from ours. They´ve always been together, and frankly, I think he is more than suitable for my daughter, Your Excellency.”

De Bouille:“I see…Well, then… good! I expect to hear the good news about Oscar´s pregnancy soon!”

General:“Yes, Your Excellency!”

To be continued…

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