The Woman in Red: 9. The secret panel
Katarina, daughter of a Baroness! His French was a somewhat rusty, nevertheless, he had understood that bit. After all, it was not that difficult. Another servant arriving from behind the old lady had shown him the way to the left stairway while Katarina was left behind with her mother. Upstairs they turned left and after about ten meters on one of the doors there was a small plate. 'Chambre Rouge,' he read. The Red Room, his designated bedroom.
His luggage was already unpacked and upon his bed. An oversized four-poster bed covered with a red bedspread, a bit old-fashioned, Jean-Pierre thought. At the top of the four posts on each corner of the bed, red drapes in a flower design hung in pieces of fabric bend through in the middle over the bed. Stylish furniture probably dating from the time of Louis XIV were scattered all over the room. When he looked closer, he noticed that they were taken care of very well, probably painted and varnished all over. The seat and the back of the chairs were in bright red velvet. The window was single-glazing, it would be chilly at night. They hadn't invented the double-glazing yet in this French castle.
After putting all his baggage on his bed in the large closet on the side of the four-poster, he gave the room a closer look. There was a three piece garniture on the mantelpiece; two bronze chandeliers and a large clock, gilt stamped and decorated with hunting scenes. A real jewel, very expensive if you had to buy such an antiquity.
When he wanted to take one of the chandeliers in his hands to study it nearby, he noticed it had been they had secured it to the mantelpiece. Strange, though maybe a measure to avoid the guests robbing such a valuable item. Accidentally he pushed one of the arms of the chandeliers and heard a dull sounding click.
On the right side, a wooden panel was clicked open in the wall. Interesting, Jean-Pierre thought. A castle with a secret place! Well, yes, he had read that certain fortified castles had a hidden path through which the nobility could escape from the castle when it was under siege. Why shouldn’t a French chateau have a sneak path? He couldn’t control his curiosity and looked through the opening behind the panel.
In the lightening of his room, he saw a corridor behind it, that ran straight ahead. Probably parallel with the other rooms, but he couldn’t look far enough to distinguish how far. In one of the drawers of a beautiful oaken writing desk, he found what he needed. A big flashlight. If it worked, Jean-Pierre would be happy. And yes, he was lucky, the lamp did it. With the thing pointed as a weapon in front of him, he entered the corridor.
Here and there, he stumbled upon some spider webs. However, it was reasonably neat in this small area. Maybe the servants used this passage for carrying the dirty bed linen to another place. When he heard the noises, he froze. His heart reached to his throat. Did the sound came from his room, would he be caught? No, it originated from in front of him, right through the walls.
Carefully, he silently stepped further. After three meters, he saw the small beam of light. There was a little hole in the wall and the sound originated from this spot. Jean-Pierre turned off the flashlight. He suddenly heard a shrill laughing and some words, but he couldn’t distinguish what they were saying. When he arrived at the air hole, he asked himself if it was fitting to overhear people, let alone watch people through this crack. His curiosity won over his ethical objections.
He kept his breath as if it would betray him and peeped through the hole. What he saw, beggar belief. A matron, her hips almost two times bigger than the width of her chest and two giant breasts hanging almost upon her belly was kneeling on a red velvet rug..., totally naked. She was full of admiration for the man, a real Adonis, who stood in all his display, and in his birthday suit in front of the woman.
She laughed, and he recognized the kind of harsh sound from before. Jean-Pierre didn’t know how he had to feel about it. On one hand, he was aware he was blushing, then again he looked almost eager at the woman who caressed the man in the most intimate spots. Her thick fingers took the man with his masculinity while she stood up and led him to the bed. There she laid down on her back and showed the young stallion how much she longed for him. The man appeared to have no prejudices and moved without a struggle upon her.
Jean-Pierre couldn’t believe his eyes. That couple was making love in the middle of the day in a way he couldn’t describe. The woman encouraged her jockey with the heels of her short legs upon his back, urging him to gather speed. He heard and saw it all at the spot where he was standing, the sounds of two bodies splashing against each other, their bodies covered with the perspiration of passion. The woman kept laughing, even when she reached her climax..., and then it became silent. Both in the room as behind the wall. As silent as he came Jean-Pierre disappeared again, going the opposite way.
When he was back in his room, and he had closed the panel, he stood still for a moment. He realized he had seen something that turned his image of lust and sensuality totally upside down Both concepts he had coupled with age and beauty but what he had just experienced, contradicted this on all points. These two persons had enjoyed their actions and Jean-Pierre had to admit, at a certain point it had sexually aroused him too. Before his experience in the corridor, he would never concede that this was possible.
He heard a short ruffle on the door and Katarina entered without waiting for him saying a word. ‘Ready to visit all the nooks and crannies of the castle, mon chéri?’ Jean-Pierre tried to disguise his emotions and nodded affirmatively. She wore a semi-long black skirt and a red blouse and matching red pumps. Katarina obviously loved red. Had she inherited it from her mother? How did you address a daughter of a Baroness for that matter? He searched his memory and found the answer.
According to the Salic law, the firstborn of a baroness could claim the same title, in other cases a female heiress was addressed as Damsel of a noble woman. In any case, he had learned so at school. If Katarina was an only child, then she was in name Baroness too…, but then he realized that he didn’t know so much about the woman in red…, yet. In a matter of fact, who was she?