Armand Rey is the older brother of Cécile Rey.
Personality and Facts
Armand is the oldest child of the Rey family. He has dark thick hair like Aurélia with the same touch of red in his hair as Cécile, hazel eyes, and a dimpled smile. During his time away in Paris, he has also grown a mustache, grown tall and broad, and his voice has become deeper. Both Marie-Grace and Cécile's friend Monette consider him to be very handsome.
He is creative, kind-hearted, and jovial, with a mischievous sense of humor. He and his younger sister Cécile are close, even after his years away; he playfully teases her and taught her how to draw, play tag, and count in both English and French. Armand considers her trustworthy though she sometimes envies the attention he gets at his return and his freedom as a young man. He and her keep secrets together, such as when she was five and Armand took the blame for her spilling their mother's ink on the rug.
At the start of Meet Cécile has been studying in Paris for two years (since 1851), with the assumption that he is learning the family business of stonemasonry; Cécile misses his presence. Initially, Cécile worries that with his return he will consider himself too mature or grown up to do or enjoy things like he did in the past, such as gingersnaps as snacks and pain perdu for breakfast. He danced with her at Mardi Gras balls; at the last one they attended together, he dressed as a knight with paper armor and always picked her for the first dance.
Armand, however, is as close to his sister as he was before he left. He secretly wishes to be a painter and artist, shown via a portrait of Cécile and carving a doll to resemble her as a birthday gift. He initially has a difficult time revealing this to his father and the rest of the family, at first only confiding this with Cécile.
Armand is described as having "that touch of red in his hair, just like Cécile." When Cécile first sees him, he is described with "dark, thick hair like Maman" and hazel eyes like Cécile. He has a mustache and is tall and broad with dimples. Cécile notes that his voice has gotten deeper. She is relieved when Armand teases her and she realizes their relationship is the same as ever. She thinks, "This was like old times with her mischievous big brother, when they used to share secret jokes with each other."
Armand is afflicted during the yellow fever epidemic but he eventually recovers.
In the Books
Armand is not initially present, as he has been studying in Paris for two years and is due to return in August, where it's expected that he will join Jean-Claude in the stonework business. Cécile struggles to write letters to him as she feels that she cannot express herself as well in writing as opposed to Armand, whose letters have funny stories with her about his life in Paris and are accompanied by amusing sketches. While away in Paris, Armand had sent Aurelia delicate lace gloves as a birthday gift the previous year.
When it's announced that Armand will actually return in May, Maman fusses about his return and worries about which clothes to buy for him and which food to serve. Cécile starts to feel jealous about all of the attention and snaps at Ellen when Ellen asks to know about him. Armand returns a week before Cécile's birthday on May 21, 1853; Cécile embroiders a white linen handkerchief with his initials in blue in one corner as a welcome gift. gift. She is so excited at his return that she unladylike runs up to meet the ship. She initially isn't sure it is him as he's matured so much, but recognizes his smile and is the first to confirm it's him. He has to tease her to get her to stop feeling shy and withdrawn during their reunion, but when he teases that he might have to pull her curls to get a hug and she beams back, he picks her up and swings her in the ait, and they hold hands to walk to the square together.
While the family is praying at the St. Louis Cathedral in thanks for his safe return, Armand persuades Cécile to sneak out with him. While it is just the two of them, he give sher a gift of a china doll that resembles her. He then tells her that that he made the mold for the doll himself and a French lady made the body and dress. When Cécile says he'll made a fine stonemason, he is serious for a moment before asking her to keep a "brother-to-sister" secret and then says he wants to to be a painter and has not yet figured out how to tell their father the news. When Cécile agrees to keep the secret, Armand says that she's become quite the young lady while he was away. He steps back into the church to get his own gift, and--after Marie-Grace runs up, gives a note, and leaves--appears with the handkerchief tucked into jacket pocket. He asks Cécile is everything alright, and when she says yes, pulls her to her feet and tucks her arm under his so they can return home with the family.
Armand is enjoying his time back at home with his family in July 1853. He begins painting a portrait of Cécile as a secret gift for their mother, and he has not yet told either of his parents about his goal to become an artist. He enjoys spending time with family and friends at Lake Pontchartrain, and he comments that he missed particular foods that their mother and Mathilde would bake.
In August, he faints one day when he is painting Cecile's portrait because he has contracted the yellow fever. Cécile sits by his side while he's sick, and she sings "Ave Maria" to him when he requests music. Armand recovers by the end of the book.
- Meet Cécile, pg. 74: [Cécile]'d carefully sewn AJCR in blue on one corner of the white square. Armand Jean-Claude Rey.