The Woman in Red: 11. The playing string quartet
It was a round table set with the most exquisite crockery Jean-Pierre had ever seen. The glasses created of the purest crystal sparkled in the light of the candles from several chandeliers.
Katarina had arranged she and Jean-Pierre arrived the first at the dining room. Just as all the rooms this location was filled with antique furniture restored in a way you couldn’t see they were that old. The seat and back of the chairs here were also in red velvet. A color they obviously loved at the Château Dauphin, Jean-Pierre thought.
Meanwhile, he had asked the Baroness’ first name. Katarina had urged him always to address here as Madam or Baroness. Still, after a while, she had whispered the name in his ear. 'Beatrice...,' but the last name stayed unknown.
In one of the corners of the chamber, a string quartet played joyful classical music. Two young ladies and just as much masculine opposites took care of the professional and musical setting of the evening.
A moment later, the Baroness arrived with Madame Thérèse Dupont. They were both involved in a lively conversation about politics; something Jean-Pierre had almost no knowledge. Besides, it didn't interest him. Those who had the power were stuffing their pocket with money. It was this way for centuries, and it would still go on for centuries too.
Both ladies greeted Katarina and Jean-Pierre while a young man filled the tall champagne glasses with the sparkling beverage. It was obvious the Baroness waited for the rest of the people to arrive because she left her glass untouched. After a short period, maybe a few minutes, the rest of the company joined the already seated guests. After the acquaintances by the Baroness, she made a toast.
‘May your stay here, be pleasant, very exciting and above all festive. I know our regulars will surely affirm this, but our young guest Jean-Pierre must yet experience it first-hand. Santé, cheers.’
Frau Bertha Hofmeister was sitting on the left of him and immediately asked when he had arrived and if he liked the castle. ‘Jean-Pierre, which room do you have?' the corpulent German minister's wife addressed him on a first-name basis. 'I'm in the Chambre Verte, the Green Room, a spacious room with a large bed, she added enticing.
Jean-Pierre pretended to know nothing and he answered that got the Red Room and that he was thrilled with the view. He tried to look not too long at her because he constantly remembered her performance in birthday suit. Jean-Pierre asked himself who her lover boy was.
Jules Tavernier, a quite burly man of fifty, kept his attention on his table lady, Madame Thérèse. While he described, with broad gestures, his experiences during his travel to Mozambique, now and then he lay his hand on the arm of the wealthy dowager. She allowed this. She even shoved a bit closer, probably impressed by the charisma of the General. Jean-Pierre suspected Madame Thérèse pushing her knee under the table against the muscular leg of the military man. The General blushed, albeit he hadn't drunk a lot.
‘Monsieur Charles,’ the Baroness started, ‘Someone told me that you can’t be forced to do something against your will. Do you agree as professional in this matter?’
The man looked at her for a moment with his dark eyes, wiped his short beard with his hand and nodded vaguely. ‘Maybe you have to elaborate, Madame.’ With his wild tuft of hair and his beard, he was the perfect caricature of the artist he was. But looking at his mysterious eyes, glimmering artificially bright in their sockets, there was something magical about him.
‘You can’t force someone to do something bad he wouldn’t do in real life. A hypnotist can’t order to murder someone…, or to hurt a person…, but.’ Monsieur Charles was holding his breath and pulled again at his beard. Probably kind of tic.
‘But…?’ the Baroness, repeating his last word meaning he had to give more explanation. Everyone in the company, Jean-Pierre included, were increasingly eating up every word of the showy artist.
‘Maybe there are other things you wouldn’t normally do, things that aren’t a real criminal behavior, for which a hypnotist can implant a suggestion. The question isn’t strange to me, and I took the liberty to do a little experiment with our musical guests.’ Now he almost talked in a whispering voice. 'I chatted with them when I arrived here at the castle. Watch close now.'
Everybody became silent and looked at the musical quartet and then again at Monsieur Charles.
‘Bravissimo,’ he shouted in the direction of the four persons. They instantly stopped playing and stayed noiseless in their chairs as if they got a drug administered. Charles got up and hurried to the music corner. He whispered something in each one's ear. Nobody could catch what he was saying. Then he went away from them.
The two young men started to breathe faster, and the two women got up after they had put their instrument on the ground. Both of them sat on the lap of their partner. The first one caressed the naked arms of the young woman. It took only a minute to remove the shoulder straps of her dress and to uncover a lush bosom. The other man wasn't still anymore, and his hand disappeared under the lifted skirt of his girl.
At first Jean-Pierre thought this was all staged, but after looking at their eyes, he knew they were under the influence of the hypnotic suggestion of Monsieur Charles. He felt suddenly a hand in his lap and suspected it was Katarina’s. However, it was Frau Bertha's, who with a dreamy gaze on her face, rubbed with her little fingers upon his masculinity. He just let her and looked at the playing quartet.