Jeanne's diary pages were manuscripts belonging to two diaries that were kept by the African slave Jeanne. She began to record her thoughts while in slavery on Saint-Domingue, where Jeanne was taught to write by François Mackandal, in an attempt to recruit her for the Assassin Brotherhood.
During this time, he gave her a diary to practice, telling her that it was "a rare gift, but better than drawing in the sand". Though Jeanne learned how to write in a legible manner quickly, she later became scared of the Brotherhood, to the point of looking forward to being sold to Philippe de Grandpré, despite being in love with Agaté at the time.
Jeanne then took the journal with her to New Orleans, pinning it inside of her dress so that she could continue her writing, which would improve greatly over time; the diary pages detailed her unofficial marriage to Philippe and the birth of their daughter Aveline de Grandpré. Eventually, Jeanne fled Louisiana for Chichen Itza, leaving her first book behind, though she continued her writings in a new journal she acquired later.
Following this, Aveline was later given the first page of Jeanne's diary by her father, prompting a search on her part for the other missing volumes.
Today, M— gives me book and pencil for practice lessons. A— also. M— say book is rare but better than tracing in the sand. It is gift because we learn well. He is kind. I must keep book hidden. Books not allowed for slaves.
Today A— took my hand but he dropped it when B— came near and laughed. He say M— will be angry. He say A— should be training. Training for what? I do not like B— or trust him. He is rude.
My fingers had blisters from scrubbing, and my knees was bruised from the floor. Mistress L— tells me to stop or I will lower my price. If I am ugly or lame no one will want me at auction. If my price is low she will beat me. Mistress C— told me to pay her no mind.
I follow A— and B— to secret meeting with M—. I know I should not but I am so worried for A—. He is not the same after he meets with M—. Now I know his training is for the Brotherhood. M— says we must take it for ourselves -- that we must fight, and not be afraid to die or kill for our freedom, like A—. Did A— kill? For what freedom? Now I wonder. What will M— ask of me in return for book and lessons?
A— asked me to join M—'s Brotherhood. He says it is only way we can be together. He does not tell me why. He does not know I spied before. B— says I will never join because I am a traitor. A— hits him. I do not know what to do. I love A— but Brotherhood scares me.
A— gives me herbs from M—. He wants me to add it to wine for the family at dinner. I will not. Mistress L— is cruel but I will not harm Mistress C— and the children. A— goes. He say if I do not join M—'s Brotherhood we never speak again.
I have to confess somewhere so I confess here. When A— left I took something from him. Something the Brotherhood needs. Something it would kill for. I do not know why it is important. But I fear that A— and B— and M— will know it was me. But it is too late for them. Even if they kill me, they will not find it.
Mistress L— says auction is next week. It is wrong to think so but I wish it was sooner. My hope is I am bought and sent to a far place. I do not care about my future. Only I must go from this place and the eyes of the Brotherhood.
At auction, they pull back my lips and press my teeth. They lift my skirts and squeeze my legs. I sing and explain proper method of washing linen. Some do not like my speech. So I cover it and speak only rough, as if M— teaches me nothing. None want me. I fear Mistress L—'s whip.
At last a man comes near. They call him Monsieur de G—. He is quiet and does not look at me. Mistress L— says he will take me to la Louisianne. I am glad to leave this place.
I am allowed to bring only my clothes but am able to hide my diary. I pin it inside my skirt. I stitch the Heart of the Brotherhood, into the lining. I am afraid Mistress L— will find them but I am spared.
Now I am on the ship that takes me away. At first I worry it will be like when I am stolen from my parents. But I am allowed to sleep in quarters near Monsieur de G—, so I may tend to him. Sometimes I may take air. There is food. No one dies.
Monsieur de G— comes to my quarters at night. At first I think it not proper. But I know I am no one to refuse him. I can not stop from thinking of A—. Did I betray him? Or he me? I am glad he cannot find me, but still I see his face in every man and sometimes wish it was him. I will try harder to be devoted to Monsieur de G—. He treats me gently although he does not have to. He brings me safety. I learned his name is P—.
We arrive in New Orleans. Monsieur de G— says I will not take my quarters among the other slaves, but in his house. I do not know what the others will think. I know I should only be glad for any comfort I am given.
May 7th, 1746
P— asked me to become his placée. I feel I must accept his offer. It is my fate that unofficial wife is the only kind of wife I can be. Maybe I earned this fate when I betrayed A— and his Brothers. So I am lucky to accept.
P— treats me with more kindness than I deserve. I think I am truly fond of him. I have something to tell him as well: I am with child. I hope he will not be displeased.
June 20, 1747
My daughter is born. She is healthy and complete. My love for her grows in a way that makes me think I did not ever know true love before. She has P—'s eyes. We will call her Aveline.
P— was full of emotion at her birth. On seeing her, he falls to his knees. He says he is ashamed. He begs forgiveness for keeping me enslaved all this time. He vows to grant us both our freedom. Perhaps there is hope for the future.
November 9, 1749
I have not written in a long while, so busy have I been with Aveline, and all the affairs of the household. How we have grown together as a family! and Aveline is truly the heart of our home, winning the hearts of all who meet her with her playful nature and carefree smile.
I should not have thought it possible that a daughter of mine could enjoy such a life of comfort and freedom. True, there are those who would taunt us with rude remarks in the street, but they are far outnumbered by friends. I know P—'s prominent position, and success in trading are responsible, but still I am grateful every day.
Not since I last saw my parents did I ever allow myself to imagine I would ever enjoy such happiness again.
August 12th, 1750
Aveline continues to grow in health, intelligence, and beauty. How her father dotes on her! Our happiness is marred only by recent troubles with P—'s business. He returnes home later and later, his brow more and more furrowed. But he seems to be confident that his investor, Monsieur de L—, with his daughter, who visits frequently, will help see him through these turbulent waters. I try to persuade P— that we can make do with much less, if that is required.
October 2nd, 1750
Sometimes I worry about that daughter of mine. For all her charm and wit, she is rather... active for a girl her age. We can hardly go to market without her running off after the dogs and chickens, or climbing the crates of dry goods. I tell her she must stay by me, lest I lose her for good, and she takes it for a game, giggling wildly and running free again.
January 8th, 1751
At the market today, the fishmonger asked me the strangest question. It seems his wife heard from the wife of the baker that Mademoiselle de L— was seen dancing on the arm of P— yesterday's eve at a Mardi Gras Party. I told him she must have been confused by the masks. P— worked well into the night, still preoccupied with his business. It seems a new opportunity is on the horizon.
March 15th, 1751
I received Mademoiselle de L— to tea today. She displayed a great curiosity about the house and all its artifacts, and took great pleasure in hearing Aveline demonstrate her piano lessons. Imagine! Piano lessons. Never did I envision such an indulgence for a child of mine, and yet she takes to them as a fish to water.
August 23, 1751
I have had a shock. P— is to be married officially, to the daughter of Monsieur de L—. What is to become of me? And Aveline?
I would flee right now, in the night, but I know without P—'s protection the risk of capture, is too high. If I were re-enslaved -- no, I cannot even think it. There must be some mistake. One life cannot contain so much sorrow as this.
February 5, 1752
Monsieur de G— (I will not call him P— now) has married The Madame. He insists nothing need change between us, but he is blind, already everything has changed.
Aveline and I have our own private quarters in the mansion, and The Madame fancies that she employs me as her personal handmaid. How she is able to support my presence, with the gossiping tongues of New Orleans lapping always at our door, I do not know.
Still I dream of fleeing, but Aveline loves her father so. I can not wench her from him as I was stolen from my parents.
January 19th, 1756
The Madame has taken a rather curious interest in me. She thanks me effusively for every small favor, though I am in her "employ" and she sits for hours as I work on the mending, asking me question after question about my treatment in Saint Domingue. She is surprisingly knowledgeable on the subject, and is even familiar with the name of M—. However I wish to detest her for the ruin she has brought me, I always find myself compelled to answer, beyond the politeness I "owe" her as an employer.
March 7th, 1757
The Madame is in contact with a great many traders' wives, who have a great many things to say about the shape of hats and the price of cotton. I strain to hear news of the Brotherhood, or even to read it between the lines, but thus far I have not been rewarded with any information that can confirm or deny me my continued safety here.
April 14th, 1757
The Madame told me the strangest thing today. She said the wife of a trader whose associate was recently near Saint Domingue heard tell of a story that a certain voodoo Houngan going by the name of M— had been seen embarking ship bound for La Louisianne. "Isn't that strange?" She asked me. "What could a man like that possible want in New Orleans? What could he possibly be looking for?" I fear I know the answer too well. It is me.
May 1, 1757
This is very hard to write -- almost impossible. Tonight I leave New Orleans. Madeleine, bless her soul, has sworn to love and raise Aveline as her own, and see to her education and protection -- at least until it is safe for me to return. Using her contacts, she has found a place for me in Chichen Itza, where I will find both safety and employment.
Once the threat is passed I will return. If I did not believe it would be soon, I do not think I could live with myself. I leave my daughter now, knowing it is the only way to keep her safe -- the only way I can ever see her again. I left the Heart with her, for safe keeping, though she does not know it.
I do not know the date. But for the grief that haunts my every moment, I am well here in Chichen Itza. Monsieur de F— gave me a comfortable welcome, and work in the community he is building.
They are men of science here, undertaking a great archaeological excavation, in the name of finding sacred ruins, and discovering history.
I do not have to hide my writing here. It is encouraged. They have provided me a new book. The old one, I left behind, for what purpose can the past serve me here?
I discovered something curious at the work site today. The artifacts we unearth bear a striking resemblance to the Heart of the Brotherhood. A chill passed through me when I saw the first shard. I do not want to demean the kindness that has been shown me here, but I can't help but wonder what is the true purpose of this excavation, and who are my employers, behind their smiles?
Oh, how I wish The Madame would send news from New Orleans. I miss Aveline so terribly, and wish to leave this place the moment it is safe.
I have been promoted to forewoman, so I know they do not detect my suspicion, but every day I grow more concerned. I do not like the greedy glint in De F—'s eye when he demands to know why more artifacts have not yet been found.
Still no word from The Madame about Aveline. Does my daughter even remember my face?
I believe I have discovered the artifact they seek. To hold it is to sense its power. It is a piece of a disc -- one part of a puzzle, requiring the companionship of two or more others. One, I am sure I know already. The other, I sense I have seen it before. But where? The answer eludes me.
It does not matter now. I have hidden the shard. They will not find it. The whole will never be assembled.
I realize now I was foolish to trust The Madame. She is not who she says she is. Her knowledge sprang not from the gossip of traders' wives, but from some direct source. She is not of the Brotherhood, but she is something else, equally sinister. I fear what harm may come to my daughter -- to what lengths and to what purpose she may have been manipulated.
At last, de F— tires of my excuses. He has banished me from my work, and from the community. I will seek some hiding place. As long as de F— controls the port, there is no chance of escape. These people see all, know all.