Didi the tale of a would.., p.1
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       Didi: The Tale of a Would-Be Courtesan, p.1

           Chantaboute Hallshire
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Didi: The Tale of a Would-Be Courtesan


  Didi

  *The Tale of a Would-Be Courtesan*

  by

  Chantaboute Hallshire

  Copyright © 2017 Chantaboute Hallshire. All rights reserved.

  Published by Scarlet Maiden, a trademark.

  This is a copyrighted work. The scanning, uploading, copying, and/or distribution of this story without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property and a violation of copyright law. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the publisher. This prohibition does not extend to a reviewer who may quote brief passages as part of a review.

  This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  DIDI

  by

  Chantaboute Hallshire

  The 16-year-old girl gazed from the second story window with unwavering admiration at the gorgeous man on the sidewalk below. At least, she thought he was gorgeous. She’d been secretly lusting after him for years. He was tall and slim, with dramatically coifed wavy dark hair neatly parted on the left side. His sharp nose and gray eyes gave him a sophisticated look that made the girl tingle. She’d daydream about him whenever she wasn’t otherwise occupied. At night, he was what she thought of when she’d touch her privates in the darkness of her bedroom, squirming under the covers just before drifting off to sleep.

  His name was Fulbert Lémieux. He was a reporter for one of the Paris newspapers and a friend of the girl’s family for as long as she could remember. In age, he had at least a decade on her. By the time she had any real cognizant understanding of her surroundings, he was a teenager and, to her, seemed so mature. She wanted him even then. Although what she wanted didn’t become clear to her until she reached puberty.

  “Dominique,” called out a mature female voice from the next room. When there was no response, she repeated it.

  Gazing at the man below her, the girl remained oblivious to the calls.

  “Didi!”

  The tone awaked the girl from her reverie.

  “Yes, Mamma.”

  “Are you doing your homework?”

  “Yes,” the girl fibbed. She was neither reviewing the homework nor interested in it.

  Homework, as Mamma meant it, had nothing to do with the school the girl attended during the weekdays. This was a Sunday, and Sunday afternoons were when the girl received her training in the family business—that business being the art of coquetry. For the women of the Dupuis family, it was a tradition that went back generations. Mamma had been a courtesan, as had her mother before her and her mother’s mother before that. Now it was the teenage girl’s turn to refine the feminine talents that would sustain her comfortably as a “kept woman.”

  “There’s no value in being a wife,” Mamma would say. “It’s all the drudgery of keeping house and none of the pleasures of being perpetually wooed. A man simply expects certain things from his wife. Whereas, a mistress’s services must be won over again and again.”

  The girl couldn’t dispute the logic, but it still seemed to her that an awful lot of foolish fuss went into trying to be some wealthy man’s ideal of femininity. The homework assignment, for example, was a list of coquettish responses Mamma composed for her protégé to study and memorize. There would be a test right before dinner.

  How to respond when a man asks if you mind if he smokes his cigar…

  “A manly cigar is the perfect complement to a manly gentleman.”

  Oh, please! Perhaps corny sentiments like that worked in Mamma’s day. But now the calendar was ticking off the last few years before the 19th century drifted into the 20th. Paris was a thoroughly modern city, and Parisians an industrious bunch with too much to do and too little time to do it. It was a new age, and surely the days of the courtesan were coming to a close. Weren’t they?

  The girl knitted her brow as she stared out the window. It was a lovely May afternoon, sunny and warm with the gentlest of breezes fluttering the leaves of the trees lining the street. She wished she could be outside with Fulbert instead of inside with her mother’s list. How much longer, she wondered, would it be before Fulbert came inside and relieved her of her tedium?

  He was talking to some older man standing with him on the street right below her window. She knew he wasn’t there for conversation with that other gentleman. He could chat with another gent anytime. Late Sunday afternoons were when he came to visit Mamma’s home. He knew the girl would be there, too. And he readily admitted that the two of them were his escape from the dreariness of daily black-and-white journalism.

  As he’d sip chamomile tea, he’d regale the females, in melodramatic fashion, with scandalous tidbits his newspaper wouldn’t dare to publish. He would, however, leave out the names of the people involved so as not to risk being overheard by others and word getting out that could cause a horror of embarrassment or legal complications. Still, even with unrevealed identities, the narratives were so entertaining. The girl relished those salacious tales and laughed with abandon at the humorous parts. The expression that would appear on Fulbert’s face indicated his delight in sharing the stories with such an appreciative audience.

  “What are you looking at?” Mamma had entered the room unheard by the girl. The matronly woman wore a dark blue dress and more jewelry than one might think necessary for someone just staying about the house. Beneath a bevy of brown hair, she glowered down at her pupil seated by the window.

  “Fulbert is just outside, talking with some man.”

  “Never mind Fulbert. When he’s ready to come visit, he will. Meanwhile, have you memorized your homework?”

  “Is this really necessary?” the girl huffed.

  “Necessary?” The older woman spoke the word as though it almost choked her to say it. “Child, you’re almost seventeen! When do you expect to learn such things? When you’re an old maid of twenty!”

  “I just don’t see the use. Do men really find this attractive in a girl?”

  Mamma pursed her lips and squinted her eyes.

  “Dominique, you are a very silly girl. These are the tried and true methods that have kept our women in furs and diamonds lo these many years. We wear them with pride. Proud of our accomplishments as the women that gentlemen of good breeding choose as their mistresses. Don’t you want to live in high fashion?”

  “But Mamma!” The girl looked down at the sheet of paper that contained her mother’s list of coquettish responses. “Number eighteen! Should a girl actually suggest she’d do that just because a man offers to buy her a bracelet?”

  “If she wants a matching necklace to go with it!” The older woman inhaled deeply. “If you’re going to be with a man, he’s going to ask for it. Demand it. That’s the way men are. Women are expected to comply, whether we want to or not. That’s our lot. Now, you can give it away for free. That’s called marriage. Or you can use it to your advantage.”

  The girl gave a melancholy sigh. The older woman stepped forward and put a gentle hand on her daughter’s shoulder.

  “Didi, someday you’re going to be a grand woman of society. The mistress of a great man. You simply need to apply yourself, to make the most of your God-given talents, so a man like that will come calling.”

  With somber resignation, the girl turned her head toward the window. At least the sight of Fulbert would rejuvenate her spirits. He was still talking to the other man.

  “And never mind looking for Fulbert,” her mother a
dmonished. “He’ll come in when he’s good and ready. And better that he takes his time getting here. Your studies always seem to dwindle down to nothing while he’s around.”

  “Maybe I could be Fulbert’s mistress,” the girl offered hopefully. “I wouldn’t have to do anything to get him to like me. He already does.”

  “Out of the question!” boomed the mother.

  “But why? You like him, don’t you?”

  “Ever since he was this high. We’ve been friends with his family for ages. But he’s just a journalist. He can’t afford to keep both a mistress and a wife.”

  “But he’s not married,” reasoned the girl.

  “Exactly! He’ll have to get a wife before he can get a mistress. And, since he can’t afford both, he’ll be stuck with just a wife.”

  “Couldn’t he get the mistress first?”

  “It doesn’t work that way! First wife, then mistress. Those are the rules.”

  The girl crossed her arms and pouted as she considered the dilemma. “So there’s no way I could be Fulbert’s mistress?”

  “I don’t see how…unless he marries into money.”

  The girl grunted and bit her lip as she further contemplated the situation.

  “Now back to your studies,” her mother insisted as she exited the room. “I’ll call you if and when he comes in.”

  Didi knew there was no “if” about it. Fulbert almost never missed a Sunday. And, as he was
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