Our narrator here is Gilbert Rochambeau. Enjoy!
As it turned out, it was some months before I summoned the courage to go back to France for good. I had friends and family in London, and the leave-taking was more difficult than I’d anticipated. Jeremy drove me to the train station. From the train, I took the ferry and yet another train, reversing the journey that had brought me to England years before.
I went first to Paris; I wanted to have the latest suit and so on, so that I would make a good impression. I had grown a full beard, but the barber convinced me that the Van Dyck was the latest style and I was shaved accordingly. I carried the blue-knobbed walking stick Claire had given me some years back, and had a bespoke suit of brown Bath superfine that I knew suited my coloring. I was terrified at what I was about to do, and hoped that the suit, haircut and the like would serve as armor to bolster my nerves.
I caught the earliest train I could get for Avignon. I had a valise with my belongings and a sketchbook in my pocket. I had no firm plans, but knew I must take the risk I was about to assume. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read or draw, and my stomach was too knotted to eat anything. What if she had forgotten me? What if she had someone else already? Was this trip folly after all?