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What the Fortune Teller Didn't Predict

by Y Lee Coyote

Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 17 Jul 2009

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is wonderful painting of a crime.  It is "The Fortune Teller", probably 1630s, by Georges de La Tour (French, 1593–1652).  While an old gypsy crone tells his fortune, a naive youth is robbed by her accomplices, a subject popular among Caravaggesque painters throughout Europe in the seventeenth century.  Certainly not all gypsies are dishonest, although the criminals in this painting are so identified.  You can see a representation of this painting at <<>>.  Even though I describe many things I suggest that you look at the picture yourself and zoom in on details.  I shall leave dealing with the criminals to the sheriff of Lunéville in Lorraine, France and consider only the youth's own transgressions.

The following story is fiction about father/son spanking.  If this  subject is offensive, uninteresting or if you are a minor (i.e., child) please leave now.

This work is copyright by the author and commercial use is prohibited without permission.  Personal/private copies are permitted only if complete including the copyright notice.

The author would appreciate your comments – pro and con, including constructive criticism, and suggestions.

François was glad to get away from his family even for just a couple of hours to look about the market.  At sixteen he felt that he was already a man and knew that he would eventually be running the family affairs just as his father did now and his grandfather had before him.  The market square was the center of the universe.  Well, the center of the small universe that François knew as Lunéville in Lorraine, France in the seventeenth century.  As most young bucks do, he was certain that he knew how to take care of himself amid the inferior peasants, merchants and poor townsfolk.

Of course, François was naive about the world and it was most obvious to most of the people in the market.  They also knew that he was the first born scion of a powerful and wealthy family so they let him be and did not cheat him when he opened his purse to purchase a pastry or trinket for his little sister for a few centimes.  There was one exception to this – the old gypsy crone was looking to make far more than a franc.  This young mark was loaded.  She and her accomplices had seen his heavy purse in his right pocket and that heavy medallion bigger than a twenty franc coin prominently displayed on his left.

The old crone did not have to tell her three young and comely accomplices what to do.  She divined his course and plotted her way to intercept his near the edge of the market.  She made sure to talk loudly of the fortune of some lucky fellow so that François would hear them.  Then, with great reluctance, she was persuaded to cross his palm with gold and tell his fortune.  Of course, he would have to supply the gold for a poor old gypsy had nothing so valuable.

François produced a coin, far larger than necessary which she with great reluctance accepted for she could not make change.  Years of experience allowed her to easily weave a tale that kept him mesmerized and oblivious to anything else.  As she talked, one of her accomplices cut the chain holding the heavy medallion.  It was a 'crime' to do so, but to get the more valuable medallion they had to forgo getting the chain.  At the same time a second accomplice was delicately pulling François' purse string to extract his heavy purse from his pocket.  The crone's wondrous tale continued until purse and medallion were securely secreted.  As François mused about his future, the four hurried away.  It was a good haul and they decided that they had best leave town.

It was only when the youth's manservant, Vernon, tended to his young master was the medallion missed and then the purse as the fortune teller's story was repeated.  The youth was upset and commanded Vernon to keep silent.

* * * * * * * * * *

It was two days later that François was summoned by his father who wished to have the medallion.  The youth, staring at the floor confessed that he had mis-placed it a couple of days past and that the servants had been told to search for it.  "I would like to show that beautiful purse that your great-grandmother made for your great-grandfather to a visitor."  Again, the youth had to confess a loss.

"I see." said the remarkably calm father, "Are there any other missing items?"

"No, Father."

"Yesterday, at the office, your Uncle Baptiste told me he saw you in the market square with some gypsies."

"Yes, Father."  François was worried.  His father knew far too much and not only was he not supposed to go by himself but he had been forbidden to talk to gypsies.

"The High Sheriff also came to the office.  He wanted me to identify a couple of items that some gypsies had when his men arrested them leaving town two days ago."  François' father placed the purse and medallion on the table.  "You have been most disobedient, young man.  You shall be severely punished."  The youth stared wide eyed at the heavy martinet that his father also placed on the table.  This was not the same one that was used on him as a child but larger and heavier.  However, he did not dare to speak.  Years ago he had learnt not to dispute when he was in the wrong.

As slowly as he dared, he removed his clothes until he was completely naked.  Then he bent over the chair and awaited his father's wrath.  There was a lot of that.  Much had been lost (although some had been recovered) because he had been disobedient having gone to the market alone and dealing with gypsies.  François hoped that he could take his punishment without yelling like a little boy.

His father raised the martinet and brought it down on the bare derriere with great force.  Each of the many tails stung and wrapped around the target.  A dozen times the martinet was raised and swung.  Each blow was worse than the previous one.  The youth was yelling after just three, crying by the sixth and bawling before it was over.

It would be a long time before he forgot this lesson.  François noted that the fortune teller had not mentioned this punishment.

The End

© Copyright A.I.L.  July 16, 2009

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