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Daughter of Silk
Copyright 2006 by Linda Chaikin
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Chaikin, L. L.
Daughter of Silk / Linda Lee Chaikin.
p. cm. -- (The Silk house; bk. 1)
1. France --- History --- Francis II, 1559 -- 1560 --- Fiction. 2. Catherine de Medicis,
Queen, consort of Henry II, King of France, 1519 -- 1589 --- Fiction. 3. Courts and
courtiers --- Fiction. I. Title.
813'.54 --- dc22 2005031947
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James
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permission of the publisher.
Interior design by Beth Shagene
Printed in the United States of America
06 07 08 09 10 11 12 * 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Marquis Fabien de Vendome stood on the open balustrade
of the royal palais chateau at Chambord, resting his muscled shoulder
against the broad marble embrasure. He fixed his attention below in the
courtyard where voices shouted and horse hooves clattered over stone.
Another burst of activity erupted near the gate. The king's cuirrasiers,
garbed in black and crimson, sporting brass and steel, threw open
the double gate. Riders thundered into the courtyard as though pursued
by fiendish gargoyles.
Fabien recognized le Duc de Guise mounted on a black charger with
a jeweled harness and gold velvet housing edged in green braid. Guise's
men-at-arms followed, bearing the flag of the House of Guise from the
duchy of Lorraine.
Fabien straightened from the embrasure, clamping his jaw. The
secret rumblings of hatred smoldered in the rocky caverns of his soul at
the sight of the duc.
Le Duc de Guise looked up toward the balcony. His gaze appeared
to search, as if he could sense a burning pit of hellish emotions attacking
him from somewhere, as if he was a jackal smelling a rotting carcass to
Then le Duc de Guise locked gazes with Marquis Fabien.
Guise's lips turned into a hard, faintly mocking smile. Fabien smiled
in return and offered a bow.
Guise turned his head away and peered over his shoulder toward the
gate. He raised a gloved hand whereupon a masked, black-cowled rider
burst through the turret gates, dusty, his horse sweating. Fabien tensed.
Who was this? A moment later the duc's men-at-arms tightened their
escort around the mysterious rider, encircling him within their midst.
Is Guise protecting the masked figure or confining him? Why the cowl
and mask? Fabien narrowed his gaze, as if by staring he could bore
through the mask to identify the messire.
He was here at Chambord at the invitation of the boy-king Francis
and his petite reinette, Mary of Scotland, but not to become ensnared in
whatever ongoing intrigue the House of Guise was presently hatching.
Fabien left the balcony. Patience, he reminded himself. The longawaited
hour to apportion revenge upon the head of le Duc de Guise
would eventually dawn.
The marquis pulled his brows together as he walked along the gilded
salle in the direction of his chambers. If anyone at court understood
the reasons behind the unexpected arrival of Guise, it would be Comte
Sebastien Dangeau, a member of Catherine de Medici's privy council
and Fabien's relative through marriage.
Sebastien's position was a precarious one since the House of Guise
might discover he was of the Huguenot faith. There were other Calvinists
at court, and they too walked the edge of a precipice. One faux pas and
they would slip from the slope into the bloodied clutches of the Guise
brothers' inquisitional penchant.
Comte Sebastien Dangeau, upon hearing that le Duc de Guise had ridden
into the courtyard with a masked rider, joined other esteemed courtiers
on one of the balconies. He held back, keeping behind the others so
as to not be seen, as he managed a survey of the courtyard.
Sebastien's gaze stumbled over a masked figure cowled in black,
being escorted by some dozen men-at-arms under the proud flag of le
Duc de Guise. The duc himself led the way into the palais. No doubt on
his way to see the king. Ah but yes, there is something familiar about the
hesitant gait of that hooded figure ---
Footsteps pattered up behind him, the scampering feet reminding
him of a mouse --- or a rat?
Sebastien turned sharply. His gaze lowered to rest upon an expressionless
face with brown eyes. The Italian demoiselle stared up at him. She
was Madalenna, the young servant girl in bondage to the queen regent,
Catherine de Medici. The Queen Mother had brought Madalenna with
her from Florence, Italy, when Catherine first came to France to marry
Henry Valois II. Madalenna, secretive, spying; Madalenna, always
approached in a whisper of movement, emerging from some shadowy
corner where one least expected to see her. Madalenna the spy.
Madalenna curtsied. 'Monsieur le Comte, my mistress, Her Majesty
the Queen Mother, bids you come to her state chambers tout de suite.'
Sebastien glanced again toward the courtyard, then turned and
departed for the chambers of the Queen Mother, known by those who
knew her best as Madame le Serpent.
Mademoiselle Rachelle Macquinet felt her heart thump and a
trickle of perspiration ran down her rib cage. This was to be the telling
moment. All she had labored for these many weeks, sometimes working
twelve hours a day, would be held to the crucible of scrutiny. For this
day Princesse Marguerite Valois, the youngest daughter of the Queen
Mother, would try on the unfinished gown. The cut and flow, the stitching,
all must be exact. Rachelle would measure and tack the hem with
a steady but feathery hand and bring the gown back to her chamber to
complete tomorrow. The gown was but one of several in various degrees
of completion, however this particular gown was mostly Rachelle's work,
and her future as a couturiere depended on the princesse's pleasure.
Rachelle, a grisette from the Chateau de Silk in Lyon, was yet under
the supervision of the grand couturiere herself, Henriette Marie Loiselle
Dushane, otherwise known to Rachelle as her adored grandmere, a dainty
widow in unrelieved black satin, with silver hair and sparkling dark eyes.
Rachelle knew her to be no easy mistress with the needle, nor did Rachelle
wish her to be otherwise. It was her desire to follow in her steps.
Rachelle stood on the terrace of the royal chambers facing Princesse
Marguerite and her ladies-in-waiting. Her wine velvet pincushion with
her initials, R.D.M., was strapped to her wrist with a black velvet band,
while a pair of specialized Dushane scissors swung from the chatelaine.
Her measuring strip draped about her slender neck. She took the widths
of sheer burgundy silk, draped gently over the cloth of gold, and with
trembling fingers allowed it to fall gracefully over Marguerite's dark hair.
The garment settled softly around her feet, shimmering.
'Ooh . . .' came the sigh of the ladies-in-waiting.
'C'est magnifique,' Marguerite purred, holding a section of the silk
to her cheek. 'It is perfect. La, la, Rachelle, you will always do my gowns.
I insist. You and your famous Grandmere.'
'Merci, Mademoiselle Princesse.' Rachelle curtsied, dipping her
head and offering a quick thanksgiving to God. 'But the work, it is not
yet finished. If it please my lady princesse, I would measure now for the
hem and the addition of the Brugesse lace.'
Marguerite stepped onto the small stool, and Rachelle knelt to
smooth out the folds on