At this point dear reader I have to confess that the details on what was Eloise’s experience at the nunnery gets vaguer. I remember that things did not go well for her there.
But, more on that later and then I will move on to the next life—that of a musician in 18th century France.
But, back to Eloise and my impressionistic and fragmented memories of life at the castle where the nuns were caretakers for a prince off to fight some foreign war.
The first thing that strikes me is that the place of children in those days is shocking to my modern sensibility. They were not treated very well at all, and mostly regarded as labor to help work the fields in times of dire poverty. Everyone was poor, and most of us never traveled more than two or three hundred miles from the places of our birth.
The Rector in my home village deliberately, found young girls and boys guilty of some offence against the church and had them sent off as free labor for his nun compatriots at the castle.
The mortality rate among children was very high almost half of the children did not live past five years of age, adults lived barelyto 35 and many, many died of diseases, from cholera, to consumption, to plague. I think I died of consumption and loneliness having spent two years working the fields in what I remember as back-breaking work, short growing seasons and bitter cold winters.
My body could not handle the stress,
The routine there was to rise at to get ready to work the fields, and say morning prayers in my room, (the nuns inspected to make sure all of us girls did the prayers) and then it was off to morning prayers in the chapel, all fifty of us sitting as Mother Superior cited scripture for about twenty minutes. Then we would get our instructions and assignments for the day, which plots we would be working on a given day.
Some of the lucky ones would work the kitchen or tend the animals.
Then we would get breakfast which was often crusts of bread, water, milk or cheese if we were lucky and rarely dates.
Sometimes, trips to the village nearby happened if you were a favored child where news of the outside world filtered in via travelers.
There was fear of bringing strangers to the castle, fear that they might be possessed by demons and therefore bring diseases from the devil. No one knew why people got sick or why they died.
I remember five different girls getting sick and dying. No one talked about it but we all could see the cemetery at the back of the castle and the little crosses all lined up there one after the other.
The sisters sometimes talked about how one or the other of them had sinned and had been possessed by the devil or demons and I got the feeling that some of them were locked in their rooms and not fed or talked to until they died.
These were harsh times.
I do remember lying on my small bed dreaming of Hans, dreaming that he could come back and look for me and find out where they had taken me and he would come the castle door a fine big strapping handsome man and demand my release and then he and I would leave and get our own farm or find a kind master and I would have his children and all of them would survive.
But that didn’t happen. I died there I think, not sure how or what from, can’t seem to remember those details. All in all Eloise's story is a sad story.
Next up is the story of Andre (I think that was my name) who spent his life entertaining the young girls and matrons in the upper crust society of France. His was an interesting life too.