Mordecai and Lucie

She was born in France to a Jewish couple. He was a Georgian refugee. His papers were marked “apatride,” stateless, in French. She was a convert, originally from the Basque side of the French border.

The ninth youngest child of the family, Lucie was fifteen when she and her older sister left the farm to set out for a better life in Paris. She was a slender, petite woman with shiny jet back hair that she wore down. Her simple and understated style did not mute her classic Basque beauty. Heads turned when she entered a room. Her almond shaped black eyes shone with a brightness that didn’t quite reflect her quiet intelligence or her indomitable determination and purpose. She had an eye for fashion and a way with cloth and a needle and thread. She was barely literate when she and her sister left the south, but by the time she met Mordecai, three years later, she had more than made up for her cultural lacking. Her hunger for knowledge more than matched her determination to thrive. The sisters left the failing farm. The first World War had been brutal on the family. Four of the male siblings, along with the father, had perished in battle, leaving one brother and four sisters to continue the family tradition. The unbearable grief of the survivors and the new family dynamic changed the family business. It would not sustain four sisters. The two oldest had married and become widows. Their place on the farm was assured first. The two youngest left.

Mordecai was muscular and squat. In his home country of Georgia, he was well-known for his skill and grace as a traditional dancer at family functions. What he lacked in stature, he more than made up for in physical and intellectual breadth. As a part of the preparation for the family succession, Mordecai managed, just barely, to finish his legal studies before escaping the red revolution.  He was well-read, not only in Georgian and Russian literature, but also in French, German, and British letters. He was a polyglot. He not only spoke a dozen languages fluently, but could also read and write in them. He was a passionate man; to the point of compulsion, hungry for life and life’s pleasures. He was a humanist and a thinker in a world that had just stopped thinking and feeling. He was a man whose roots had just been wrenched. Once in the New World, his best skill, his mind, would never be put to the good use his lineage had intended him for. He never got over the sadness and shame of that realization. His bleeding soul would never mend from the guilt and loss of all those he had left behind.

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