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March 1538. Agen, France.
God had given her a glorious day. After a long, bitter French winter, spring was
finally here. The light breezes of Gascony carried the sweet scents of almonds and
honeysuckle. Children watched their wooden toy boats bobbing on the River Garonne.
The peacock-blue sky and towers of cumulus clouds beckoned anyone who was still
indoors to come outdoors and breathe the fresh air. Young Henriette loved days like
this. On these days, her father would relax in quiet meditation on the green banks of the
Garonne, smoking his pipe, eating cheese, and reading stories written in Latin. But the
twelve year-old French girl would rather be in the fields. Just a mile or two out of town,
hillsides filled with cheery sunflowers danced next to vineyards brimming with purple
grapes. Agen was, after all, only a short distance from the world- renowned vineyards of
Bordeaux, the bosom of French wine making. Henriette loved to pick flowers and twist
them into pretty arrangements for her mother, Andiette. Henriette took in a deep breath
of spring air, smiled, and hurried down the dirt path with her little terrier Pierre. Today
Henriette would visit the almond trees, sprouting their white and pink blossoms, swaying
in the wind, blowing buds around her like a springtime shower of pink and white confetti.
Henriette planned to lay down with Pierre in the grass between the trees, letting the
blossoms fall on her face, smelling the almonds, and eating slices of her mother‘s nut
bread. And if she got around to it, she might write a story. Henriette had an active
imagination and cherished making up stories about far away lands and princesses and
castles and stories of love. Her father had given her a white feather and bottle of India
ink for her birthday. Papa was like that. He was always so considerate. She had
borrowed some pieces of vellum from her father‘s study to start her next story. She had
also brought her Bible. The Lord‘s Word was not only important for feeding the soul, but
also a great source of inspiration when she got writer‘s block.
Henriette scaled a small hill, pushing her way through thigh-high grass. When she
reached the top of the hill, she saw the rows of almond trees ahead and her heart leaped.
Surely no one could deny the Savior after seeing such beautiful wonders! ―Come on,
Pierre!‖ she beckoned to the brown and gray pup. She carried a small basket which
contained some of her mother‘s nut bread. She was trying to learn to cook these days but
she had so much to learn. Mother had taught her last week how to make rabbit stew.
How Michel had liked that! She thought of how savory the broth was when her Mother
made it. She took in another breath of almond air as she skipped to a small clearing
between the rows of trees. Henriette took the small blanket out of her basket and laid it
on the ground, making sure there was no mud here which would ruin it. The grass here,
though, was not wet and the spot was suitable. She pulled up her white cotton dress near
the fringe and lay down on her back, staring up at God‘s beautiful sky. What a day!
She thought of her mother and father and how much she loved them. She thought of
her husband Michel. He seemed like a kind man so far, and he seemed so dedicated to
his medical patients. Papa had assured her that Michel was not only a man of means but
also a man of wit, and Papa never said that about anyone. Her father had become such
close friends with Michel. The two talked often for hours, discussing the need for a book
on grammar or the best cure for a plant rash. They had become inseparable. She did not