It's one of the marvels of the creative process - characters take on a life of their own and grow way beyond what the writer originally intended. While the author's fingers fly across the keyboard, the villains, protagonists and just plain common folk that populate the story vie for attention like the children of too busy parents. They grow in dimensions never consciously considered by their creator, they say and do things totally unexpectedly and they sometimes take over.
The following are scenes that were deleted from A Luscious Illumination for just those reasons but are still interesting in their own right. Some deletions were removed because of my proclivity for pendantic ramblings about history...
Édouard’s coffin was placed inside the black hearse which was also bore mounds of fragrant spring blooms on its roof, allowed views of the casket through beveled glass panels and was pulled by a matched pair of ebony steeds with coats curried to a brilliant sheen. The driver snapped the reins and the procession began toward the Place de Clichy.
Traffic stopped in the busy intersection that formed the hub of life at the base of Montmartre. Shopkeepers, sales girls, waiters from the cafes, models for hire, housewives and servants on errands lined the sidewalks, watching the passing cortege. Eugène lead the throng following the hearse as they walked through the normally bustling streets. The residents of the Batignolles district came to say goodbye to their famous neighbor. Some of the women wept. The men stood with bare heads bent.
The procession turned into the rue d’Amsterdam and proceeded along the wide boulevard. Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre Renoir, Camille Pissarro followed the Manet family. Even Edgar Degas joined the procession. Behind them, more participants joined in the march toward the church of Saint-Louis-d’Antin. The funeral passed the Gare St. Lazare. The train station of glass and steel, filled with billows of steam and scurrying travelers, had inspired Édouard and the Impressionists who celebrated a new age. Even the mighty iron behemoths seemed subdued in respect to the man who stoked the engines of artistic revolution and recorded the birth of the modern era.
The church was too small to accommodate the multitudes, so hundreds waited outside under the gray Paris sky. Inside, the church was draped in black banners bearing the initial M. Behind the altar, a domed ceiling rose and thousands of candles filled the sanctuary with light while the funeral mass was performed. After the choir sang and the eulogy was given by Antonin Proust, the pall bearers again shouldered their burden and carried the casket to the hearse. The great cortege trudged past the Opéra Garnier and along the right bank of the Seine to the sloping Trocadéro with its vista of the Champs de Mars and Les Invalides. The march ended at le Cimetière de Passy. Just as they arrived, the sun broke through the thin clouds. Newly erupted leaves glowed chartreuse with the illumination. Borders of flowers and the grassy hillside made the cemetery seem like a park.
The black gauze over Berthe’s face dulled her vision. It seemed like she was swimming underwater, floating in a nether world disconnected from the one around her. The ground opened to a dark chasm, like a vicious wound stabbed into the earth. She tried to concentrate on the priest’s final prayers, but it was only the rasping sound of ropes lowering the coffin that caught her focus. The sound reminded her of the creaking of ships’ rigging and she thought of Édouard’s entertaining stories of his year at sea. The mound of flowers on top of the casket quivered as they sank into the abyss.
Édouard was the first of the family to be buried in this plot. Eugène and Suzanne had agreed. The four of them would rest there together. It was the only reassurance Berthe had. None of the priest’s words of salvation and heavenly reunion gave her reassurance. The earth did not seem quite so dark or quite so cold, because Édouard would be there too when she died.
After the final amen and the final expressions of condolence were given at the grave, Berthe saw Edgar Degas hanging back while the multitudes descended toward the Seine. He watched as the great mass of humanity broke apart, drifted away and then nodded to Berthe and Eugène.
“He was greater than we knew,” Edgar said simply.
“Some of us always knew how great he was,” she answered and moved on.