The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 27

Captain Delacroix is with me at the courthouse where he has agreed to an informal meeting with the judge. “Your honor, may I present Captain Julien Delacroix of the French army. Captain Delacroix is a member of the French Diplomatic Corps. As such he is not subject to the laws or orders of our government.”

“Mr. Myer, I understand the captain’s position vis-à-vis our laws. Captain I appreciate you appearing here.”

“It is my pleasure your honor. I’m authorized to answer your questions, to a point. My government has placed certain restrictions on the manner in which I answer. May we retire to your chambers to allow me to continue?”

“I find your request highly unusual, but then, having a foreign diplomat in my court is quite rare. Court is adjourned. Gentlemen please come with me.”

The judge opens a cigar box and asks Delacroix and me to join him. Once cigars are lighted, we relax in comfortable chairs. The room is more like a study, than an office. The judge says, “Captain before we begin, would you explain what restrictions I’m expected to honor?”

“Your honor, my government has strong feelings about the sovereignty of our nation and the sanctity of our laws. My instructions are to oppose any attempt you contemplate that does not coincide with our demands.”

“What are your demands?”

“France has lodged a complaint with the American Ambassador in Paris. We have demanded that Mrs. Myer return the girls, Catherine and Ada Mae Dean to France and that she make herself available to answer criminal charges.”

“Interesting, but I must ask you captain, do you believe that our government will allow any country, even France to take two of our citizens in a case such as this? I doubt that Mrs. Myer will present herself to your country to answer, what one might consider minor criminal charges.”

“The answer to your first question is something that only emissaries of the highest order, American and French, can address. I would not presume to know what they in their wisdom will ultimately decide. I’m at liberty to inform the court that until Mrs. Myer’s petition to adopt the children is settled, my government will suspend any action or decision. Once your honor has approved or denied the petition for adoption, France will reexamine her position. More than that, I’m not at liberty to say.”

“I understand what you have told me captain. Mr. Myer, do you have anything to add regarding the position of the French government?”

“No sir, I do not, other than to say Captain Delacroix has been extraordinarily cooperative. My clients and I have nothing but the highest regard for him.”

The judge takes a long pull on his cigar, not yet half gone. Tilting his head to his right as he leans toward Delacroix, “Captain, if may, I have a few more questions.”

“What do you wish to know? I will answer if able.”

“Captain, you have been in Ridgefield for several weeks, is that not correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In that time I have you come to know Mrs. Myer and the children in question?”

“Yes. I’ve found Mrs. Myer and the girls to be delightful.”

“Good, good. In your opinion, would Mrs. Myer be a fit and caring mother to the girls?”

Joseph objects to the question. “Your honor, I must object. Is that a proper question for you to ask outside of the courtroom?”

“In normal circumstances I would agree with you and withhold the question until the witness was under oath. In this instance, you have brought Captain Delacroix to me with the understanding that he will not be sworn in as a witness, and that I can only ask certain questions of him. Is that not correct?”

“Yes sir, it is.”

“Captain Delacroix has observed Mrs. Myer and the girls in their daily lives, while under less than ideal conditions. You have told me that you and your clients hold him in the highest regard. Is that not correct?”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you fear that the captain will tell me something harmful to your petition?”

“No sir, quite the contrary.”

“Then I shall ask him if he can answer the question. Captain would you like me to repeat my question?”

“No sir. I’m able and would be pleased to answer your question if Mr. Myer has no further objection.”

“I have no objection your honor.”

Delacroix takes a breath and lets it slowly out. “Your honor, I’ve come to know Mrs. Myer quite well in this short period of time. I find her to be an honest woman of impeccable character. Her love for Katie and Ada Mae is undeniable. She cares for them as strongly as any mother could. The love she has for them is visible for all to see.”

“Thank you captain. I have one final question for you. Have you formed an opinion about the girls and whether or not they would be happy if I grant the adoption?”

“The girls have not had a mother in their life. Katie was only two years old when their mother died. It is obvious to me that their father, Francis Dean, did everything a man could do to raise them to be fine young ladies.” Delacroix pauses and seems to search for the right words before continuing. “I have observed the girls’ behavior with Mrs. Myer. It is my opinion, that they love her as much as she loves them. If adopted by Mrs. Myer, I believe they will be happy and well cared for as long as they live.”

“I must apologize to you captain. Your comments have given rise to another question. If something should happen to Mrs. Myer, a widow, what would become of the girls?”

Joseph interrupts, “I believe I’m better qualified to answer that question.”

“Good ahead Mr. Myer. I’m anxious to hear what you have to say.”

“As your honor knows, Mrs. Myer is an extremely wealthy woman. It is her intention to establish very generous trust funds for both girls. Your honor may not know this, but Mrs. Myer’s late husband was my half-brother. I will be their uncle and would be here for them in the event some malady overcame Mrs. Myer.”

“I did not know of the familial relationship Mr. Myer. Thank you for telling me. Now unless either of you have additional information that should be presented to me at this time, you will have to excuse me. I have to return to my courtroom. I’ve several other matters requiring my attention.”

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