Jean-Pierre sat alone in the tavern and watched Marie, the barmaid, as she steadied six pitchers of ale against her stomach and chest. She squeezed them tight before filling her fingers with six mugs to deliver to war-weary soldiers who milled around the room.
Relieved to have reached his destination after a two-day ride from Paris, Jean-Pierre relaxed. He reached deep into his pocket and retrieved the letter from his father which had brought him here. He re-read it, placed it face down on the table, picked up his pencil and began to draw.
He started with Marie’s head: back for balance, chin held high with pride. He caught the luxuriant waves of her golden hair, her classic nose, rosebud mouth, the straight-forward stare of her eyes as she distributed the drinks to the drunks. He filled in her breasts, the closely-wrapped dress fabric which followed the curves of her body, the flare of her apron strings.
Then he tore the paper into bits. It wasn’t a very good drawing, just as his father’s letter had not carried very good news. Five words said it all: the girl or your inheritance.
Jean-Pierre had decided. He loved Marie. He would eschew the money, and somehow, he would survive as an artist.