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21.

We went to Tante Juliettes. Mother stayed a week, then moved away, perhaps out of guilt or fear, ostensibly for the sake of her health. We only saw her a few times after that. We understood that shed changed her name, reverting to her maiden name, and had moved back to Brittany. Details after that were sketchy. I heard she was making a reasonable living in a bakery, baking her old specialties. Cooking always was her first love. We stayed with Tante Juliette, moving away ourselves as soon as we decently could, Reine to try for the movies for which she had so long yearned, Cassis escaping to Paris under a different name, I into a dull but comfortable marriage. We heard that the farmhouse in Les Laveuses had been only partially gutted by the fire, that the outhouses were mostly undamaged, and that only the front section of the main building was completely destroyed. We could have gone back. But word of the massacre at Les Laveuses had already spread. Mothers admission of guilt, in front of three dozen witnesses, her words-I killed him! I was his whore and Im not sorry-as much as the sentiments she had expressed against her fellow villagers, sufficed to condemn her. Soon after the Liberation a brass plaque was dedicated to the ten martyrs of the Great Massacre, and later, when such things became curiosities to be contemplated at leisure, when the ache of loss and terror had diminished a little, it became clear that the hostility against Mirabelle Dartigen and her children was unlikely to dwindle. I had to face the truth; I would never return to Les Laveuses. Never again. And for a long time I didnt even realize how badly I wanted to.


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