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My Summer Vacation

                    

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It was not my best day.  The summer sun heated my tea shop although I had open the front door and opened every window.  My customers added to my misery too.  They kept complaining about his lordship.  Always the same complaints, "his evilness this" or "his greediness that".  Too much talk and not enough buying.  I wanted to be away from here and from them.

Late in the afternoon, a footman came into my tea shop and ordered all my customers to leave.  Then, in walked his lordship.  He was resplendent as you would expect of the nobility in fine well fitted and expensive clothes inlaid with gold thread.  It made him glow in the sunshine.


His lordship had a strange proposal for me.  He suggested that we change bodies and that I become him for two weeks or so.  He said to think of it as a vacation from my life. 

I asked, "That is most generous My Lord, but why would you do this thing?   I am a struggling tea shop owner who works long hours, from morning tea to night-time tea, to pay my bills and to have food and a roof and you are a lord and own almost everything in the province."

His lordship replied, "I had a dream.  I dreamed that God commanded me to change myself with one of the common folk, like yourself,  to experience how you live.  I have chosen you because you are neither poor nor rich.  I will live your life while you live mine." 


He continued, "You would be Blessed to live as me for the next two weeks.  You would dine on the finest foods, sleep in the most comfortable of beds, be waited on hand and foot by eager servants with no other pleasure than to please you.  You would live as well as the king himself does."

I asked, "How could we do this?"

His lordship said, "Once upon a time, I met a witch.  I went to her and I purchased a potion that would cause us to swap bodies.  We would mix some of our hair in the potion and I would drink some and you would drink some and it would be done.  At the end of the two weeks, we will drink the potion for a second time to return each of us to our bodies."

I asked, "If we did this, wouldn't your servants and the other nobles know you are not you as I will not know how to behave like a lord?"

He replied, "Be without fear for, as lord, no one would dare to question any of your behavior," and he smiled then added, "under the pain of death."

His lordship's face changed into his commanding glare and said, "I want to begin my vacation immediately.  I am not a patient man nor am I used to waiting.  If we cannot start now, I will pick someone else." 

I considered his strange proposal.  I would be leaving the hard work and drudgery of the tea shop.  I imagined what it must like to live as a lord, to have anything I could want.  I would be wealthy and powerful and best of all, many of the nobility and everyone in the village would bow before me and call me "My Lord."  I agreed to drink the potion.  I immediately left my tea shop as his lordship and went to his lordship's chateau in his lordship's carriage to begin my vacation. 

Within the first hour of my arrival, his lordship’s man of business, his Charg√© d'Affaires, requested an audience.  He complained that the bills for the food and wine were due as well as the expenses for the servants wages and the bills from the tailor.  He reported that the king had raised the estate’s taxes.  His lordship pays taxes?  He begged me for restraint in my spending and added that there was no money coming in until after the harvest two months from now.  I did not want to hear of his lordship’s troubles so I banished him.  I ordered him to go and not to return until two weeks had passed.

I could eat and drink whenever I wanted and I could eat more than I wanted.  I did not have to worry if there would be food for tomorrow.  I ate dishes the like of which I have never seen.  The strangest was a curry goose, a foreign dish but delicious.  I have no idea of the wines I drank but I drank as much as I could until my valet had to carry me to my bedroom. 

During one of the nights, in a drunk stupor, I fell out of my bed.  I woke the next morning on the floor and I discovered a hiding place in the bed frame filled with dazzling jewels.  Ha, his lordship didn’t want me to know about his diamond rings, emerald pins, and ruby bracelets.  Well, I am going to wear them all before my vacation is over.

It was a pleasure to order the servants about.  Ordering servants proved harder than I imagined.  I would reach for the wine tankard before I remembered to hold up my goblet and to call out, "Wine, right now!"


There was an entourage living in the castle.  It seemed that their sole purpose was to hold parties and to entertain his lordship.  A glorious party every evening and those charming ladies ... so agreeable.  There was one in my bed every night for the first four nights but I could not keep that up.  A man can only do so much.

By the sixth day,
I wondered, why do I have to go back?  This is a fabulous life.  What could his lordship do about it if I refused to drink the potion?

On the eleventh morning, I was awakened by loud noises.  I rang for my valet but instead, a crowd of villagers lead by my valet broke into my bedroom and began to attack, punch, kick, and curse me.  They accused me of being a leech on the village, of imprisoning and torturing the villagers for the smallest offenses, and of imposing onerously high taxes, and that their families were starving was my fault. 

I fought the many arms reaching for me while protesting my innocence, "I am not his lordship.  I am one of you, Gilles Trudeau, a humble tea shop owner.  I have exchanged bodies with his lordship." 

The angry villagers dragged me from my bedroom, through the
chateau, kicking and beating me as I kept screaming, "
I am not his lordship, I am not his lordship.  You have the wrong man."  I caught a glimpse of his lordship in his guise as me going in another direction and carrying what looked like a bag of jewels, "there, that him, that's his lordship.  You have the wrong man." 

The villagers threw me into my carriage and took me to the village marketplace where there waited a guillotine.

It was a beautiful, clear day ... this, my last. Just before they led me to the blade that hovered over the wicker basket, I had a moment to scan the angry crowd. Some of the villagers were laughing with spite but most were snarling. Only one person looked simply amused. It was the witch who had enabled all of this, so many days ago. Even above the shouts and curses of the crowd, I could hear her voice as she called out, "Veillez à ce que vous souhaitez."

I became the first of the nobility in our province to be beheaded on the eve of the French Revolution.
 

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