Letter VIII [Sent]
24 Oct, 17—
My dear Mother and Father,
I have much to relate, and I'm sure that you will be astonished by some of the developments I have to tell you. I have finally met my pupil, although it was not quite the formal introduction I might have expected. A very odd occurrence happened to me a few nights ago, that I am still been turning over in my mind, where I came to discover the child outside on the lawn beneath my window in the very early hours of the morn. I was not able to speak at any length to her, however, for Madam S------ appeared and removed the child to her bedroom. When it was light enough to venture downstairs once more, I was informed that Mademoiselle was still asleep in her chamber. I was surprised to hear that she had slept alone, and even more so that this was customary for she disliked the company of Bertha, her personal maid.
I must admit that curiousity about her nightly wandering got the better of me and so I went to up to see her and found her already awake. She had arranged her pillows so as to support her little person in a sitting posture: her hands, placed one within the other, rested quietly on the sheet, with an old-fashioned calm that I found most unchildlike. She is exceedingly tiny in person, a neat little figure, light, slight and straight. Sitting there, she seemed almost a doll; her neck, delicate as wax, and her head of silky curls increased, I thought, the resemblance.
"Else," I greeted her, when she turned her large eyes on me. "Do you know who I am?"
"Yes Madam," she replied, "you are to be my governess."
"That's right." I came more fully into the room. "What were you doing last night, when I found you?"
She regarded me very solemnly. "I was standing outside."
"Yes, but why?" I thought I detected something like insolence in her gaze and I became annoyed. "The was very naughty of you."
"Will you dress me?"
"I shall go fetch your maid."
"No, I want you to do it."
She clambered out of the bed, almost toppling from its height so that I rushed forward to steady her. I then found myself obligingly helping her into a little coral and green silk frock. All the while, her most peculiar mannerisms continued to emerge.
"Tie the sash straight, please; and make my hair smooth."
"You are ill to please! I think your sash straight enough."
"It must be tied again. Please do tie it."
When I finally did so and turned my attention to her hair, I was again told –
"Pass the comb straight through, Madam, or else the line will be crooked."
I thought it on all accounts an unsuccessful venture but when we had finished she regarded herself carefully in the full-size mirror. "This was adequate, better than Bertie. You may dress me from now on."
"I shall not," I returned, as sternly as I could, "I do not mind on occasion, but otherwise this is a daily task for your maid to do."
"No," she said, in a very high and imposing voice, "you shall do it."
And I have done it every day since.
Indeed, her teaching has been a little trying; she is a precocious child and very advanced for her age but she lacks discipline and obedience for regular study. I have told myself that I must exercise patience – the daughter of a Marquis must be accustomed to self-possession not otherwise granted to children her age. I have not spoken to her father yet; he has been busy since their return. I am hopeful that when I have the chance to, I can impress upon him the need for a more rigorous structure to her day.
I worry that this will seem too much of a complaint and so I hurry to reassure you, beloved parents, I am confident that, with a little time, my new ward and I shall settle into a comfortable and productive routine.
I have been waking earlier and, although my rest has somewhat suffered, I am well consoled by the magnificent views that the Chateau offers, for here the remoteness of my new home is at its greatest advantage. As I look out of my window now, I am just high enough to see the first sunbeams of the day shooting up from behind the distant hills, that fine saffron tinge spreading out over the scene, imparting repose to all it touches.
When the grey clouds clear enough, I can see the full panorama; the distant landscape, a broadening vista of the spiral summits of mountains touched with a purple tint, broken and steep above but shelving gradually to their base; which blend into hills that, in turn, become the open valley below; darkened by tall groves of cypress, pine and poplar that grow thick around the village that I first passed through on my journey here. I have not yet had the opportunity to return there since the cart travels down on the first day of the week when I am preoccupied with Else.
One of the footmen, however, having heard my expressed desire to go to church (the chapel here is not currently in use), has offered to take me down on the next suitable day of our Lord and so I am eagerly awaiting the chance to explore that quaint hamlet further. Until then, I still have the Chateau to roam – I do not think I have discovered all the secrets of its grounds; and I still scarcely know where I am when inside, for one corridor always seems to lead to two more.
My room is also well-positioned so that I can see much of the comings and goings around the main court; I have even espyed, once or twice from my vantage point, the Master who cuts an erect and handsome – if slightly morose – figure, striding with purpose across the grounds. The first time I was quite alarmed; his twin sits above the mantle in the dining hall, and for a moment I thought the portrait had come to life! If I may be so bold in my confession, he is precisely how I think an aristocrat should appear; a squarely built dark man, tall, with a handsome and resolute countenance.
But gracious, look how I prattle on! I have just reread this letter and found it to be tediously long already. I am grateful that you have suffered through its contents, and shall make every effort to be more concise in my next attempt.
I can only surmise that much is happening and I certainly do not suffer from idle hands.
With much love,
PS. I am told the post is expected! I shall, therefore, save my next letter as a response to those you have sent me.
YOU ARE READING
Dangerous LettersHistorical Fiction
Dear Reader, This letter serves less as a preface to what you are about to read, and more as a cautionary warning. For this is a dark, terrible tale and though I must suffer further as its caretaker, you need not burden yourself with what lies with...