The Path We Follow
Victor looked around the Skeffington’s home, studying every small detail. It was as magnificent and glorious inside as it was on the outside, if not more so, albeit a bit cold in color. He grinned as he thought to himself how, in just a few weeks, this would all be his. He followed the old servant as he guided him through a maze of grand stairs and long, richly decorated corridors. The old man spared a second to look at Victor again and he smiled, nodding slightly, to which the servant replied with a shake of the head and a look of disapproval.
“Remind me again who is it that I should be announcing, sir?”
“Gabriel McGrath.” Victor smiled.
“My master doesn’t usually receive visitors that are uninvited or unexpected.”
“Well, I am not a usual visitor.” Victor grinned and he could feel the servant agreeing with him, though not in a positive way. “And your masterisexpecting me.”
“If that was the case, he would’ve told me so.” The old man eyed him with suspicion. “Sir.”
“Well, let’s just say that he is expecting me to come aroundsometime.”
The servant kept his skeptic look but proceeded to guide him, anyway. It was like he feared Victor, like no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t bring himself to trust him. Victor wasn’t bothered by it, though. The man he needed to impress was certainly not this old servant. The man whose trust he needed already trusted him.
“We have arrived, sir.” The old man pointed at a majestic wooden door with a golden knob and ornaments. “This is my master’s office.” Without waiting for a reply, he knocked on it.
A very faint “come in” was heard from the inside of the office and the old man slowly opened the door, widening it just enough so that he could step in but Victor couldn’t look inside.
“Sir, there is a certain Gabriel McGrath here to see you. He seems to believe that you’d be expecting himsometime.” Silence followed this sentence and the servant continued, as if to excuse himself, “I told him it was most indelicate to come without invitation, but he insisted that-“
“No, no, it’s quite alright, Albert.” Victor could hear the tired voice of, he could only assume to be, Amos Skeffington himself. “Send him in.”
Victor grinned as he heard this and he made his best to properly show it to the old man, who clearly disapproved of it. Albert moved aside, finally allowing Victor passage into the chamber. With a last nod of his head, Victor took off his hat and entered the room, leaving Albert to close the door behind him.
Inside the much smaller, degraded von Mallesch house, Ethel sighed as she allowed herself to fall on the couch, a glass of freshly poured wine in her hand. When she opened her eyes, the stuffed dog was sitting on top of the couch in front of her.
“God have mercy!” She jumped at the sight of it and immediately heard the sound of Joshua’s laughter.
“What are you doing, witch lady?” he asked her, peeking around the couch.
She glared at him and answered coldly, after taking a sip of the wine. “Minding my own business. You should try it.”
Joshua giggled. “Are all evil witches rude like that, witch lady?”
Ethel took a deep breath, as if collecting all her patience, and mumbled, “I certainly can’t deserve this.”
“Leave her, Josh,” Alice told him, as she entered the living room. She stared at Ethel with disapproval on her serious, chillingly calm face.
“What?” the older woman asked abruptly, without trying to hide her foul mood.
“You’re not that much of a lady, are you?” Alice asked, defiant, “The sisters taught us how to behave with manners. It seems like somebody failed you in that.”
“Why you…” Ethel grabbed the glass with all her might and managed to control the sudden rage that invaded her. She drank the rest of the wine in one large gulp and took another deep breath, followed by a dramatic wave of the hand to her forehead. “Oh, if I hadn’t promised Selina I wouldn’t hurt you…” She looked at them, her gaze dark and menacing, her words slow and cold, “I would hurt you.”
Joshua trembled and Alice had to control every fiber of her being not to do the same, for those eyes told her – and certainly told Josh, as well – that Ethel wasn’t exaggerating. She was being honest, deeply and cruelly sincere.