James called back, but Melanie was away in France!

The missed call on her cell phone woke her. James had left the message “Hi Darling; I’ll be home at 5.30. Call me back if it’s urgent, otherwise my love, I will see you then.”

It could wait until James got home; she knew he wouldn’t believe her anyway; “I have been to the Palace of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI” she would tell him.

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Oh yeah right!!! He would say.

She set about making the evening meal.

Beef Bourguignon should set the scene she mused, over a glass of red wine.

She giggled to herself, taking her time and setting the table with French linen and candles for an evening of romance: one of many they enjoyed together.

Right on time, James arrived home. Melanie waiting for him with a glass of wine and a hug.

“Oh, that smells delicious!”

“Yes, I got the recipe today in France; I thought you might like it.” giggled Melanie

His brow curled as he looked at her; the question there.

“Go and change and we’ll have dinner” she said smiling.

As they sat there, Melanie told him of her Un jour à Versailles last night and her second dream earlier in the day.

“It’s fantastic that the piece from the French Collection has inspired you like this!” James said.

“No, you don’t get it James! I was really there! I knew you wouldn’t believe me” she giggled

“Ok, my love; I believe you.” he said.

But she knew he didn’t.


As they fell asleep, Melanie’s last thoughts were; if she would sleep without dream, or?


She was playing cards with her courtiers when Melanie entered the room.

Their eyes met and both were instantly engaged in a journey of discovery.

Melanie nervously approached them but she could see in the Queens eyes she was a welcome guest.

Bonjour. Je ne suis pas sûr que nous nous sommes rencontrés. Vous semblez ne pas être de Paris! Vous visitez d'Angleterre?

{Hello. I'm not sure we met. You seem not to be from Paris! Are you visiting from England?}

For a moment Melanie stood in front of the Queen speechless! What do you say to someone who you know is no longer here?

The words came effortlessly from her.

Bonjour Votre Magesty - J'espère que je ne m'immisce pas dans votre jeu de cartes.

Toutes mes excuses, mais je me suis retrouvé dans l'enceinte de votre palais et j'ai eu besoin de faire votre connaissance. Je ne viens pas d'Angleterre, mais d'un pays très éloigné. Je m'appelle Melanie Osborne.

{Hello Your Majesty - I hope I do not interfere in your card game.

My apologies, but I found myself in the enclosure of your palace and I needed to get to know you. I do not come from England, but from a very distant country. My name is Melanie Osborne.}

Mélanie, d'un endroit lointain; nous jouons aux cartes, voudriez-vous nous rejoindre?

{Melanie, from a distant place; we play cards, would you like to join us?}

This was not anyway able to be believed! Melanie was talking in a language she didn’t speak or understand and yet every word was as if it were her natural language. And every feeling she was having was as if it were now!

But she was feeling as if she was in the 18th century! Even her clothes – they were from then!

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What was happening to her?

“Ce serait merveilleux; Oui, j'aimerais participer au jeu. Mais je ne suis pas sûr de savoir comment jouer. Comment s'appelle le jeu?”

{"That would be wonderful; Yes, I would like to participate in the game. But I'm not sure how to play. What's the name of the game? "}

With a bemused look Marie looked at Melanie

“C'est le pape Jeanne! Avez-vous pas joué à ce jeu de cartes avant?”

{It's Pope Joan! Have not you played this card game before?}

Melanie…..Take a reality check she said in her head!...

This is just a dream!!

“Oui, Votre Majesté, mais cela fait très longtemps. Pouvez-vous me rappeler la façon dont il est joué?”

{“Yes, Your Majesty, but it's been a very long time. Can you remind me how it is played?”}

“Bien sûr, viens nous rejoindre, Mélanie; le jeu ne fait que commencer. Asseyez-vous ici à côté de moi.”

{“Of course, come join us, Melanie; the game is just beginning. Sit here next to me.”}

Melanie in a spin of emotional surrealism took the back of the chair in her hands, moved it slightly and sat down.

On the table in front of her was her piece from the FRENCH COURT!!

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What is going on!!!?

Marie with cards in her hands and gaming counters piled high on the table, passed over the exquisite mother of pearl pieces inlaid with gold to Melanie.

The laughter was intoxicating as they all played the game of ‘Pope Joan’ into the night; friends enjoying life together, as Melanie felt in the 21st century; a night with the girls.

These days to come would be the golden days of Marie and Melanie’s friendship.

She had arrived at the French Court of the King and Queen on that beautiful spring day to the sound of days gone by she could not believe she had arrived ‘once upon these days’


Ching Dynasty Collection

We are the custodians of some of the most exquisite examples of hand carved artistry from 200 years ago, here as just a few for you to look at: