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Virginia: Chapter One

     ďNon, Virginia, I will not have you disgrace this family. You 
will concentrate on finding a husband as you were meant to. And you 
will not by any means join that ridiculous artistís commune. And if 
I have to keep you under lock and key until you submit to me, the I 
will do so!Ē Virginiaís father slammed the door after him. She heard 
the lock slide into place and her fatherís footsteps traveling down 
the hall. Still, she did not move from the edge of her bed. Part of 
her was afraid that if she did move, she would shatter into a thousand 
pieces. She felt cold inside and wondered how she would ever be able 
to live without her sculptures.
     
     The first time she had ever felt alive was when her art tutor 
took her to the Louvre to show her the Pieta. The graceful sprawl of 
the Christ across the Madonnaís lap, the look on her holy face as she 
gazed into her dead sonís face had kept Virginia captivated until she 
felt Monsieur Monreau gently pulling on her arm, trying to move her 
to the next exhibit. Later, she had begged Monsieur Monreau to show 
her how to carve such beauty from raw stone. He was very reluctant 
at first, pointing out that while it was only proper for a girl of 
her station to have an education in art, it would be downright disgraceful 
for her to actually become an artist. She persisted, offering him bribes 
and vowing to never reveal her new talent to her parents, as it would 
surely cost him his job. Finally, he relented, somewhat impressed 
with her apparent passion. He secretly showed her the basics of various 
methods, but it was stone sculpture that held her imagination. When 
she had exhausted her tutorís knowledge, she began researching other 
techniques. She also began to experiment, refining her own style. She 
could have continued her secret life in complete happiness, marrying 
as her parents wished and not minded as long as she had her sculptures. 
     
     Then she heard rumors about an artistís commune in Arles. The 
idea behind the commune was that artists should focus on creating, 
not being forced to worry about money and material possessions. The 
artists would sell what they could, the pool their resources to support 
each other. Virginia dreamed of joining this commune. There she could 
continue to make her sculptures without the distraction of a husband 
and the many children that would inevitably follow. She prayed to God 
for weeks that her parents would allow her to go and be content to place 
the responsibility of making a good marriage on her younger sister Marie. 
Her prayers were in vain, however. Her dreams shattered, she chided 
herself for being so selfish. As she prepared for bed, a ray of hope 
crept into her mind. Perhaps she could marry an artist! She could assist 
him in his creations and maybe he would indulge her in her sculptures! 
She would apologize to her father first thing in the morning and tell 
him she would gladly entertain suitors in search of a husband. Hopefully, 
she would somehow manage to meet an affluent artist whom her family 
would approve of. Suddenly, her smile returned to her face as she 
brushed out her long blonde hair and lay down to sleep. She did not 
know she was being watched.