Aurore: La vraie histoire
Chapter 30, p. 417 to 419.
Exilda found Marie-Anne's letter in her yard. The envelope was blank. She opened it, read it. And understood. She spoke to Arcadius about this skin condition business, and he spoke about it with Adjutor Gagnon...
Marguerite had told her mother of the treatment that her aunt inflicted on her cousin. Séverine promised herself that during the holiday season she would discuss it with Albertine, her half sister, wife of Jos Badeau, as well as with Victoria, so that she could let Anthime know.
In their frequent conversations, Télesphore and Anthime only discussed male issues, and as Anthime and Victoria did not care much for Marie-Anne, they saw little of each other.
Exilda intercepted Marie-Jeanne with the purpose of getting information from her. The young girl had been given the standing order, under the threat of the worst reprisals, to say nothing more than to talk about Aurore's skin condition.
Adjutor, who feared being scorned by the parish priest, as Exilda had been, opened up to Oréus Mailhot.
Oréus believed that Anthime would carry more weight with the parish priest. It was a lot to ask a brother to go and complain about his brother's ways, especially since Anthime didn't feel well. Nevertheless, he went to the presbytery more than once, but the priest was never there; he was always somewhere else, on a trip or visiting the sick, or he was busy with practical matters concerning the church land or repairs to the sacristy.
Communication progressed at a snail's pace. No one had a phone in the outlying areas and few had one in the village. Conversations took place on a weekly basis, every seven days, and time passed. And time was passing for Aurore as well
The young girl became like a little frightened animal, cowering, silent, in intense pain, more dead than alive.
The woman armed with her calculated cruelty proceeded systematically with her malevolent plot in the same way as if her task had been to care for the child and nurse her back to health.
She treated the injuries so as to maintain gaping sores, struck at the skin to have them open up, used a scrub brush and soap to irritate them. Some sores would begin to heal, new ones would appear. She often used the cane made by Marguerite and increasingly struck the child's face and head.
When the swelling around Aurore's eyes would begin to subside, renewed blows would blacken them once more, which contributed to the dark circles that signalled her slow and inexorable deterioration.
Télesphore worked at the mill and ate after everyone else at night. The woman made sure that he did not see Aurore for fear that he would be alerted to her pitiful state. She still exercised a certain prudence so that the death she was expecting and hoping would occur in the spring at the latest would not come about too quickly and as a result of a single wound that couldn't be explained by the child's skin condition and overall declining health. What the cruel stepmother hoped for most was a generalised infection that would ultimately be the death of the child. In any case, she resolved to speed up the process soon after the holiday season. Télesphore would be working in Villeroy then and would leave the house Monday at dawn only to return on Saturday. In addition, she would arrange for the child to catch a good chill....
Aurore endured in silence, except for screams during torture sessions. All this was nothing for her following the agony inflicted by the red-hot poker. Blows to the head: they put her to sleep. While she slept, she wasn't in pain. She loved to sleep, nothing more.
The mother had too much to do, however, to constantly starve the child. When she was working at her chores around the farm, the young girl would take the opportunity to get herself something to eat and Marie-Anne, with the amount of food that was placed on the table, couldn't keep track of leftovers. This allowed the victim to maintain her strength. And prolonged her agony.
Source: André Mathieu, Aurore: la vraie histoire, chapitre 30 (Saint-Eustache: Éditions du Cygne, 1990), 417-419.
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