A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (Francois Sabourin)

by cheri block

To read Chapters One and Two, click on the link. If you have suggestions or observations, I am open to them.

Francois “Roux” Sabourin

1950

Francois Sabourin’s red hair distinguished him from most other people in Yarmouth. As one old scallop fisherman had observed, “There aren’t too many red-headed Frenchmen in Nova Scotia.”

“There aren’t too many French redheads in Saskatchewan, either,” Francois answered. “My Aunt Hazel told me that seeing my wet red hair come down the birth canal shook her to her Catholic core. Was Margaret delivering another Esau? she had wondered. Attaching biblical symbolism to everyday events wasn’t so odd.  Catholic French farmer folks living out on those barren Saskatchewan plains were mighty superstitious. And my aunt and mother were no exceptions.”

His mother Hazel and her sister Margaret had played and replayed the story of his birth at his baptism, his First Communion, and at all his birthday parties. And as with stories that endure, often their truths are swapped for entertainment. Francois’s birth was no exception.

1920

“My God Hazel, why who’s the father, anyway?” his Aunt Margaret joked while attending to Francois’ delivery in a drafty tar papered shack his father Frederick had constructed for his family in 1916, a year after the family had emigrated from Berry, France.

Francois’s mother, Hazel, exhausted from the nineteen hour labor, was not ready to see the humor or to reveal the truth of the question posed by her sister.

“Good God Almighty, Margaret,” she whispered, closing her eyes while Margaret efficiently cleaned up little Francois just as she had done with the lambs born each spring on their farm in Spaulding.

“Saskatchewan is a big province, but I have rarely seen a red-headed person here,” Margaret continued on the theme as she wrapped Francois in a white bundling blanket and handed the baby to his mother. When she gingerly placed him into her sister’s waiting arms, Margaret couldn’t help but observe the amusing image. “Why with his head of red hair popping out  and  his body tapering to a point in that swaddling blanket, he looks just like a carrot!”

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in A Cup of Tea and A Biscuit (a story of Nova Scotia), My fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (Francois Sabourin)

  1. Richard says:

    This is really wonderful.You’re in the swing now!

  2. Oh well Cheri, French Canadians are a mixed lot with ancestors coming from several French regions and even from other countries very early on. Many are descendants fron the soldiers of the Régiment of Carignan-Salières and they were mercenaries from Germany and Switzerland. When demobilised in 1660 something most stayed, took French names and procreated.
    Red hair is a recesssive gene, if I’m not mistaken, and can spring up on anyone anytime.

  3. Peter G says:

    I’m wondering why the spaces before and after the word “and” in the very last sentence are wider than the spaces between all the other words.

    I swear to God, I don’t go looking for this kind of stuff. It just jumps out at me. I may have a brain disorder or something.

    But the spaces are bigger, and there’s always a reason for everything.

    • Cheri says:

      Well, you have carefully observed a secret space in the story. Watch out for other spaces, their location and deeper meaning.

      It’s all very mysterious, isn’t it Peter?

  4. Cheri says:

    I do not speak German, unfortunately.

    Btw, tried to leave two comments on your blog, but that tiger came out and growled at me.

    • Peter G says:

      Again??? Do your comments feature anti-feline bias anytime that happens? Cerbera is very sensitive.

      Or maybe she’s allergic to your hat. What is it made of?

      Thanks for letting me know, and I apologize for the inconvenience. No idea if this is a general problem or if it is Cheri-specific. You can always click on the Contact tab and send me any comments you can’t post. Then I’ll post them with your credentials.

  5. Richard says:

    🙂 😀 😦 😮 😯 8) 😛 😐 😉 😆 😳 😥 👿 😈 🙄 ❗ ❓ 💡 ➡ :mrgreen:

  6. andreaskluth says:

    OK, I like your intro of Francois, since we’ve sort of been waiting for him ever since we found out about that red-headed baby of the slug.

    My one thought so far (I am assuming this is book-prep) is that you’re introducing a lot of names. Adding up these posts, I get a few pages — ie, we are still in the first chapter. Perhaps you can think about introducing some characters — at this point — annonymously (“the sisters”), and just a couple by name? Or perhaps it is the choppy process of reading-by-post that made me have to go back to look up the previous names.

    My guess at this point (I’m saying this so you can check whether that is the effect you want) is that this story is likely to be multi-generational (a la Wild Swans). We will probably get to know the 12th sister best, but also her slug mother (that is now my name for her), and also Francois, and perhaps even his mother.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you for your input. Much appreciated.

      The book will start with four short chapters.
      Story will be a bit of psychological realism, a la Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome.

      1. Daughter who opens the story looking back , sitting with her sisters.Emma Squire (narrator in most places) Around 40 years old. Although there are 12 sisters, few will ever be part of this story. Too many characters otherwise.

      2. The Slug ( Fiona Macrae Squire) Emma’s mother.

      3. Francois Sabourin a charming smart rascal of a man.

      4. Last (and not posted), Emma’s father and Fiona’s husband, Forbes Squire. Sturdy, dependable, restless

      So, four characters in a 250 page story.

      About?
      Literature (Emma is a teacher…:)
      History ( Think Evangeline)
      Husband/Wife

      Loyalty
      Deception
      Aging
      Secrets

      This will take me 1 year to write, maybe a year and a half. I know I can do this one. It’s all coming quite quickly to my consciousness. Amazing.

      I sure hope my Alcibiades interlude doesn’t wreck the natural flow of things.

      Thanks for weighing in. You have been quite supportive. I won’t forget that.

      Wish I had time to read Wild Swans…

  7. Very nicely done. One comment: I know the red hair is an important issue, but I felt that it might be getting a little too much emphasis in this chapter. All of the references are important and provocative, but there just seemed to be too many and the carrot one, although it’s in many resepects the funniest and most pregnant (pun, intended) it seemed a little cliched. My suggestion is to at a minimum eliminate the first sentence of the last paragraph.

    • cheri says:

      Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.
      When taken as four short little chapters (which I have titled them), the pieces indeed have way too much orange in them. All three refer to red hair. I just couldn’t resist the carrot image.

      But you are right!

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