“YOU ARE MY DESTINY, MY HEART…I LOVE YOU.
SHADOWS shrouded me in a veil as the silver touch of moonlight cast a glow in my wake. Silence, having conquered all in the night but me, surrounded me, chastising me for the slap of vibrating sound that my boots created on the wet cobblestones. The chill that had accompanied the arrival of the mysterious night- always in its company like the most faithful of friends- signalled to every particle in me that I was not wanted here. My lips twisted into a wry smile as this thought entered my mind. Who ever wanted me in their presence? Not even the night had any pity for me as it chipped my face with its icy touch and numbed my fingers till no feeling could be provoked in them. Gathering my thin silk shawl closer around my stiffened body I continued my walk through the dark and dim alley lost in my thoughts and unaware of my murky surroundings. Why was I here? I chanced to ask myself but no answer was immediately thought of. Fatigue was draining me of the remaining energy I had and my whole body was swaying from lack of rest. Unable to stand upon my feet anymore I surveyed the dark sanctuary I was in for any resting spot that would bear me for a few minutes. However none was in sight except the filthy ground that was polluted with centuries of grime, which in my current state seemed just as welcome as any plush cushion would seem in any other case. Collecting my skirt I sluggishly sank down praying that when I returned back to the mansion- that was my solitary confinement- Madam would not see the dirt stains on the dark blue iris coloured satin material. The odours of stench that tickled my nose in a miserable way were nothing in comparison to the bliss created by the departure of exhaustion as it slowly trickled away from my secluded being. And in this very spot as I lay humbled by the oppression of any happiness in my life by certain factors I revived the life I held in my hand that had never seen a day without being molested at the least once. Life as I knew was sprung from the depths of the realm of
divinity but after it was placed in the hands of the parent it was up to them to adopt the theme of it. Should the parent be poor or materially deprived then that theme which they would bestow on the new born would be equally deprived of objects but not of love. However should the parent be rich and in access to great wealth then the theme would be sharply contrasting to the first though not in the case of love. In regard to all this my life was not so simple. My parents were of the second category and they had excess of everything from happiness to money. But all of their contentment was demolished when the divine handed me over into my mother’s arms. Second in birth and second in their hearts I remained for I was no darling like their Adam and despite the strains they took to show affection for me it was never sufficient. At a very tender age I was concluded by them as ‘different’ and without the charms of any young infant of similar age. Marie- my fellow playmate and the daughter of my mother’s best friend- had elaborately curled blonde ringlets and big blue eyes and a charming nature as Madam used to say. On the other hand look at you! She would cry and would turn her pretty face away from me as if I brought her immense grief. My thick black hair that had a natural curl to it and my equally big grey eyes were no match for Marie’s in my mother’s eyes. I was nothing but a quiet infant who never uttered a single syllable whilst Marie was an object of unceasing splendour to her mother and mine. Fastidious for attention Marie always reminded my mother how inferior to her I was. So unpleasant was this thought that she shunned me away in the early stages of my life and took to cosseting my elder brother who was superior in both age and captivation to me. My father was no more amiable to me than my mother for he was strict and austere and was not very fond of young children especially wild ones like me. He would spend days without greeting his little girl or speaking of a word to her until duty demanded. Never did he regard me with warmth and I was surrendered to my own solitude to do what I pleased and say to myself what I wished with no companion but the room I sat in. Ignorance having played a big part of my childhood I sought no comfort in my parents but from my nurse Miss Marianne. I still remember plainly the day she arrived to take care of me. She was a tall lady of fair complexion and a sweet temper. I was four years old then and so far had had no love shown to me in those four years of life. With gentle words and equally benevolent acts she won my confidence and my heart on first approaching me in my secret corner in the nursery. She became the image of a mother with the qualities that my own was so deficient of in a very short period of time. Miss Marianne was appointed to be both my nurse and governess and therefore she fed me with luscious books that I learnt to read and told me of tales that were so engrossing for my yet undeveloped mind that they made me shiver with awe. I was fast in learning and soon my knowledge exceeded that of my brother who was 2 years senior to me. No account of my accomplishments
were given by either of my parents but I had Miss Marianne whose praises were of more worth and importance to me. Yet all this was before the day it happened. It befell on my 7th birthday and as usual I was alone with Miss Marianne and I was opening my presents which though of great beauty and expense were not given with love when with no warning I suddenly fainted. I remained unconscious for three days much to the agony of Miss Marianne and the panic of my family. Doctors were summoned but their examination gave them no reason for my abrupt decline in health. The mansion became solemn and the inhabitants and the visitors were shrouded in the fear that I would leave this earth forever very soon. What I went through during this period of time is beyond my own words for even though I sensed everything around me I couldn’t move nor speak. It was as if I had been frozen in time while my environment was as normal as ever. My body experienced many physical changes and my soul withstood many emotional changes for as I lay there in my bed, Miss Marianne sitting beside it, I was forced to experience the unpleasant sensation that something was happening to my body. The blood flowing through me seemed to tinge with something more than warmth. My bones seemed to harden and the flesh attached to them felt as if something was weaving into it like a dressmaker embroidering a dress. Skin turned from normal to pale. Eyesight grew sharper allowing me to see the tears that fell from my governesses eyes in minute detail. My breathing slackened- the doctors saw it as a symptom of death- and my senses enhanced. Melodies of music seemed to travel through my veins and for a time I was lost to this extraordinary grip that I was being held in. At last the day came when the spell that had binded me to my bed lifted and I was free to gape at the body that though still mine was not the same. I had stood in front of the mirror staring at the creature before me with nothing but pure wonder. If Madam had thought me out of the ordinary before I speculated at what she and Sir would say to this. My physical change was indeed such an unforeseen event by Madam, Sir and Adam that they very hastily quitted me upon arrival and didn’t show their faces to me in an extensive amount of time. Miss Marianne, equally stunned by the occurrence, soothed me with calm words of how terrified she was that I should die and how she couldn’t bear to ever part with such extraordinary a friend. Forthwith I was spurned worse than in the days before my incident and all meaning of normality lost its sense to me as I become more and more abnormal. Following the incident I was immediately quick to observe that I had gained something that none of the people, who called themselves my family, had nor had Marie or Miss Marianne. I was stronger, faster, sharper and had advanced senses. I didn’t feel human anymore.
Eleven years ensued and I grew amidst their wake try as I might to satisfy Madam and Sir but how could I place myself in their hearts when they condemned me to the state of an outsider regardless of the fact that we shared the same blood. How could I stand to beg for forgiveness for not being able to please them? So I didn’t devote any part of my life to these people and neither did they. In good company they would praise me as an equal to their son but otherwise I was nothing to them but a mere dependent. They were eager in every way to marry me off and to prevent the necessity of them seeing me constantly as a shame to the family honour. Deeming me agreeable enough with waist length black curls, large eyes and a lithe structure they began pursuing young men of their acquaintance an activity strengthened when I came of age. To no avail were my pleas to prevent such unnecessary haste nor were Miss Marianne’s. My poor nurse. She remained in that position without marriage nor had children who would generally have wanted her to quit her job as my governess. Madam and Sir spoke no objection for her continual stay at the mansion with me as it was one of their strange ways of showing me any faint emotion they had towards me. Miss Marianne, now almost thirty-two years old, was starting to lose the beauty she had had at eighteen. Her figure was plumper and her face as sweet as ever was beginning to form lines but she never cared less for me and neither did I.
Clip clop. The noise of an approaching carriage brought me back to the present. My eyes scanned my surroundings in unease as I sprang up from my place of residence against the walls of the alley. The sound of the horses on the cobblestones was getting louder and louder and I was unable to run away for the alley had not any bends in which to escape through and it was almost impossible for me to outrun a horse in my current situation, nevertheless of my abilities. So I stood there, pressed against the grim wall, trying to blend in to the dark and hoping that the carriage would pass by. Who would come through this dinky smelly alleyway anyway? But my hopes were destroyed as my eyes sought out the carriage that was most unfortunately turning into the alley. Oh! I was indeed trapped, for the occupants of the vehicle could not go by without seeing me and that would lead to trouble since Madam did not know that I was missing. My dress was not helping as it was extremely bright against the dull grey of the alley and my black shawl was not big enough to cover it completely. Part relief flooded my mind as the two brown steads were not those of Sir’s nor of any of his or Madam’s relations. Nevertheless terror still coursed within me as the horses drew nearer and still nearer and within a foot from me they paused and the carriage came to an abrupt halt. Before the driver could dismount the door
of the coach opened and a young man of around nineteen years of age stepped out. He had dark brown hair and a pale complexion similar to mine. Stepping out onto the grubby alley his eyes sought me out while alarm and pity were trying to overtake the expression on his face. Pity seemed to win because he stepped forward and into the pool of moonlight that was peering into the passage. Firstly it immediately struck me that he looked faultlessly handsome and secondly that he seemed to me very strange almost as if he was hiding a secret within the folds of his black cloak. Taking in my appearance once more with his sharp emerald green eyes he at last said in a pleasant voice “Are you alright?” then he quickly added “may I be of any assistance to you?” “No sir. But thank you very much for the offer” I replied attempting a genial smile despite how cold I was. He looked around him at the alleyway as if just noticing it and he turned back to me with concern etched over his perfect features. “But surely you don’t wish to spend the night here. It is not very safe and furthermore you look like you have a cold. Come, I will take you home for you must have one” he said as he indicated the satin dress I wore which clearly symbolized that I was not a mere beggar on the streets. “I insist that I am perfectly fine sir” I said but already I could see that he would not leave it at that. “Miss you look like you are from a rather respectable family and I would not want to deprive them of you any longer. So please bestow upon me the pleasure of taking you home and I will upon my word take you there safely” he said more earnestly. “Well if you must sir I would prefer it if you did not drop me inside the mansion for my parents do not know of my wanderings and this would promote the wrong impression for them” I said giving in mainly due to the icy wind that was starting to pick up as the night progressed. He held out his hand and I took it cautiously as he helped me into the coach. Silently I scolded myself for having made my dress soiled while I had sat on the alley floor; for the coach had such a luxurious interior that it frightened me to sit on the pale blue seat, as I was certain that I would get it dirty. My escort followed me inside and shut the door behind him. All of a sudden I was reminded of Miss Marianne’s warnings of never accepting anything from a complete stranger and here I was sitting with one in a carriage all alone except for his driver who was no acquaintance of mine either. Wondering in disbelief at my stupidity I nervously glanced around for any object that could potentially serve as a weapon if fate demanded. Perceiving my abrupt queasiness the young man turned towards me and shook his head slowly, a smile erupting on his lips.
“Dear Madam I wish no harm upon you. I am Edmund Thorn and I am here in London on my father’s request. I hope you will not think of me as evil. I only desire to accompany you to your house as I do not want a beautiful young maiden stranded in a dark alleyway. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?” I paused not quite believing that he had pronounced me to be ‘beautiful’. “My name is Belle Rose. I live in the Rose Mansion” I then blushed and added “Will you please forgive me for my false prejudice, Mr Edmund?” The smile that had been playing on Edmund’s lips grew and he laughed “Well Miss Belle I must say that I have never been accused so quickly of treachery upon such short an acquaintance. Indeed you are forgiven!” I couldn’t help but let a swift smile decorate my lips at this remark and the lingering thoughts of wickedness that might be hidden in Edmund escaped my mind as the journey proceeded. In the short space of twenty minutes I had learnt so much about this young man that it quite dazed me. I had never been able to talk so openly or as freely with anyone but Miss Marianne but that was a result of the length of our friendship. But this young man, so new in acquaintance to me, was as easy to laugh and smile with as my nurse and this revelation soothed me for now I had one more person who didn’t dismiss my pale and pixie-like features for oddity and who seemed to share them himself in a much more masculine way. The brief intervals of silence were filled with moonlight and the journey overall was a beautiful experience. We seemed to share something parallel such as what a brother and sister might share and its effects were spell bounding. As soon as the wrought iron gates of the mansion came into view a melancholy dejection injected through me for our acquaintance was now over for the present. Edmund seemed to share the same gloom too because as he helped me out of the carriage he said “We will meet again Belle” then before I turned away towards the looming manor he continued “We are friends now aren’t we?” I smiled at this and nodded before I made my assent up the stone driveway and into the gates of my lonely pris
THORNS caught at my dress as they desperately tried to stop me climbing into the marble balcony above. Madam had found it rather amusing when she asked the gardener to plant rose bushes along the perimeter of Rose mansion. But it wasn’t very amusing now. My bleeding fingers clung to the pipe that ran alongside the balcony in an effort to climb up to my bedroom. Tears stung my eyes as my slow progress up the pipes killed every piece of muscle I had in me. At last my hand found the side of the balcony and my breath caught as the cool marble made contact with the blood on my palms. Launching one leg over the railing I pulled myself up and onto it. The door leading inside to my bedroom was open as it had been when I had left on my excursion and I fell inside and sank onto the soft carpeted floor. Time seemed to revolve around me as I lay there, sleep slowly seeping into me and taking over my body like a poison…
“Belle! Oh my dear wake up” I blinked. Sunlight was pouring into my eyes and my body felt sore and weak as if I had just run around the world. Struggling to withstand the sleep that still held a constant iron grip on me I unbolted the heavy sleep laden lids covering my eyes to catch a glimpse of the person waking me up even though I knew who it was. Miss Marianne was in front of me, an agitated expression on her features told me something was deeply upsetting her. Wearily I sat up and realised I was sitting on the floor and with this meek thought the experiences of last night came running back into my mind which was now more able to fathom my condition. Miss Marianne, seeing that I had woken from my deep slumber, got up and started to rush around the room gathering up spare items of clothing that I had left lying around, frantic and almost hysterical with panic. As she collected a pink stocking that lay in a tangle beside the ornate fireplace she at last gave me the reason for her frenzy. “Madam received a letter last night saying that Miss Marie is coming to visit today all the way from York. She will be here any minute and if she and Madam were to see you in such a state I hate to think of the consequences. So you must get up and get cleaned before the visitor arrives, Belle”
As the information she fed me registered in my mind I understood Miss Marianne’s alarm. Madam would certainly realise that I often escaped my confinement to the outside world if she saw me like this. Without delay I instantly rose and flew into the bathing room while Miss Marianne pushed a towel into my hands. “Quick!” She cried as I shut the door. Just as I was lacing up my shoes I heard voices in the passage outside and footsteps on the polished wood. With one last look around my room- that was now spotless of any evidence to suggest my crime- I plastered a smile onto my face and walked forward. The door flung open- Madam never regarded my privacy- and the sight I saw in front of me was not too pleasant or to my liking. Madam, as always, wore her blonde hair in an extravagant bun that mimicked her personality. The dress she wore was bright green and it contrasted sharply with her dull brown eyes. Standing beside her was a girl of my age who I had not seen in 5 years but could still recognise without any error. Her blonde curls were let lose just past her shoulders and her big blue eyes were wide with curiosity as she looked at me. Pink satin material made up her sweet and elegant dress and a bow sat in her hair furnishing it like a crown. Marie was never anything but sweet and self-confident in her life and seeing her like this enhanced this opinion of her which I had. A genuine smile was carved onto her pale pink lips and she stepped forward and into my room. “ Belle! I cannot believe how many years we have spent apart. It reminds me of all the good times we had together as children to see you again” a tear escaped her eyes and she patted it away “I have missed you so, Belle” she said quietly. To be honest I was quite taken aback by her change in character. Maybe it is an act to impress your mother said a voice inside my head. I returned her smile and her greetings as if I was grateful for her presence in my chamber and I suggested we go out into the grounds. Madam up until this point had stayed with us and upon this declaration she removed to her own quarters and left us together to go out of the mansion. I grabbed my shawl as we made our way outside into the chilly grounds of the estate. Usually Marie was a talkative person who seemed to regard silence between any two companions as a waste, however, today a silence stretched between us so immensely long that I was myself wanting to break it. Once outside in the gardens of roses that were being tended by the gardener I started bringing up topics to start a conversation. How is Madam Lynnette? I would say and in reply she would say ‘she is fine’ and would say no more until I asked the next question. Fifteen minutes passed in this style until I could bear it no longer and so I too remained noiseless. Like this we walked around and at the sound of the lunch bell I
almost ran inside, happy to escape this distorted person who was once my so called friend and play mate. The afternoon advanced in a manner very similar to that of the morning and soon it was sun set and still Marie had not spoken once out of turn. However, stunned by this behaviour as I was it was nothing compared to the astonishment of Miss Marianne when I related to her the passing of the night before. She reprimanded me for accepting the offer from Edmund and she was further shocked to know that I had been wandering for hours in the alleys lost in my thoughts and unconscious of my surroundings. “My my, Belle! I should never let you out again if you are to go wandering about the alleys at night. You know the dangers people suffer in that place and the thought of you, such a pretty young girl out there! It almost sickens me to think of your state if Edmund had not come by” “You know I am no ordinary girl and that I have enough power to defend myself” I replied as I pulled a book out of the collection I kept in my chamber away from the family library. I cozied up in my bed, snug under all the quilts, while I turned on the oil lamp and set it on the table adjacent to my bed. The book was my absolute favourite- pride and prejudiceand it always gave me the sense of belonging to this world the same place where the love story was set. Miss Marianne was knitting in a cushiony armchair by the fire and upon my words she at once stopped and disciplined me some more. “Tut tut. Belle you were exhausted by then as you told me, so what are the chances of you being able to defend yourself against an unexpected attack? I shall certainly never let you out at night again if you begin to rely too much on your special senses and …” I interrupted her straightaway for I could hear someone walking into the corridor outside my bedroom door. She understood and put a pause to the conversation to go back to her knitting. The footsteps outside were timid and feminine and even before I heard the knock on the bolted door I knew who it was. Leaving my warm haven I went and unbolted the mahogany door, all the while cursing the person on the other side for interrupting the time I had to spend with my nurse. Marie was standing on the other side of the threshold in her nightgown, pillow in one hand candle in the other when I opened the barrier between us. Softening the grimace on my face I asked her what she wanted. She smiled nervously and said “Belle, would it be ok if I could sleep in your room tonight? I feel so lonely in my own room with the wind rattling the window panes…it’s almost nerve wrecking. And also I wanted to spend some time with you and catch up on the years we were parted”
I was startled by this unexpected request and my mouth said “Okay” before I could comprehend the situation. When I realized my mistake it was already too late for remorse so I stepped aside and let my unwelcome companion through. Seeing Miss Marianne, Marie’s smile spread wider and she exclaimed “Oh! Miss Marianne. How lovely to see you” Soon both of them were conversing like long lost friends beside the fireplace while I sank into my bed and read Pride and Prejudice which no longer held my interest. What did hold my interest was their happy banter and try as I might I couldn’t help but let the green waves of jealousy wash over me. One of the things I liked about Miss Marianne was her ability to see through the charm that Marie had. But I couldn’t be too sure of that now. The clock struck ten and it was time for bed. Miss Marianne gathered up her knitting and left the chamber with a brief goodnight. I put away my book and made space for Marie on the bed beside me. Everything was silent and ill at ease for a few minutes before Marie disturbed the hush. “I am sorry Belle” she whispered in a soft voice full of guilt. “Why?” “You know why. I took away your mother’s love for you at a very young age and that is something that I can never forget or forgive very easily” Her voice was louder now and choked as if she were crying. “But it was never your intention to do so. You were very young at that time and how could you ever blame yourself for my mother’s own decisions? It never came across my mind to blame you for stealing my mother’s love in the 18 years of my existence. And I never will” I answered as I turned towards her. She continued “As always you are kind, gentle and compassionate. It shames me to think how differently I behave to you. I have tried Belle. In these last 5 years I have tried to change my views my personality, even, but what good is it if I change now for I can never go back in time and correct my ways” She seemed really upset now and I couldn’t help but calm her with words. “Marie, I will never blame you for what I don’t have nor need. You are my friend and always will be. If something is troubling you please tell me” “I want to tell you only one thing. I am sorry for my past acts and I ask with a reformed mind for your forgiveness. I understand if you don’t deem me worthy but I will suffice with
anything” Marie whispered this into the night and I couldn’t help but say what I said next with my whole heart. “I forgive you Marie”
The sun rose bright and early the next day and with it, it woke me. What come to pass the night before haunted my mind as I stepped into the bathing room and took a lengthy bath. Dressed in a pastel orange dress and hair combed and free to curl down my back I sat in the armchair, which had been occupied by Miss Marianne last night, and pondered the baffling and unpredicted conversation between my companion and me. She was still in bed and from all the way across the room I could distinguish the tear stains on her face. One hour I sat there wondering at the sudden alteration in my friend until she woke up to the morning with fresh apologies and requests for forgiveness. The day passed rather blandly and Marie, though more talkative than the previous day, still seemed to lack her usual confidence and charisma. It happened to take place during dinner that a servant came in to hand in a letter addressed to Madam from my ‘dear’ brother Adam. Excitement coursed through us and we finished the cold chicken and mashed potatoes in a rush so as to be able to know the contents of the letter. Sitting before the fireplace in the parlour Madam at last thought it right to open the letter and as she read its subject out loud for our benefit we all gasped at the surprise. “Adam is coming to visit from Oxford.” I uttered, unable to believe what I had just heard from my mother. She nodded, disbelief etched upon her own face. The letter was passed around and its contents were indeed startling.
Dear Mother, It is my present joy to tell you of my arrival in Rose Mansion next week as it is a request from Father. I hope you will be pleased by this news and I also hope my sister will be too upon hearing of it. My journey
shall begin in a few days and I hope to see you and Belle by nest Thursday. Take care. Best regards, your well-wisher and son wishes and
“This is quite a surprise to be sure. I suppose that your father will be arriving too along with Adam since it was his request in the first place. We must have the mansion cleaned. Oh my! There is quite a lot to do” Madam half addressed me and half herself. Miss Marianne, Marie and I left her in peace to ponder upon the preparations to be made. We quitted the parlour in excitement and none of us could stop talking until we reached my room. “This is news indeed!” Miss Marianne exclaimed as we entered the warm chamber. The topic was discussed a major proportion of the night and the days that followed. Madam was always on the lookout for any muddy footprints and untidiness throughout the house and the servants were made to cleanse every room to perfection. The residents of Rose mansion and Rose mansion itself were all ready for the arrival of their masters.
Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ flowed from the piano as my fingers barely touched the pallid ivory keys without any command from my brain. Music drowned me and I was reminded of the incident that took place on my 7 th birthday. As the last notes faded away I heard applause from behind me. “That was beautiful Belle! You play so pleasantly. I wish I could play like that” Marie said from the couch she occupied. I smiled and let my fingers recreate the next sonnet without further reference from the music sheet on the podium atop the pianoforte. I was six years old the first time I sat atop upon this seat and traced the cool keys with my petite fingers. That was the day Miss Marianne had promised to teach me my first piano lesson. I smile inwardly as I recall the impatience that had taken over my mind that day, the strong belief that I would never play as skilfully as Miss Marianne. Murky and overcast the grey sky outside the windows of the parlour seasoned the atmosphere with a melancholy sensation. Brief flashes of lightening shot across the heavens and the patter of rain pounding its seal onto the roof could be heard from all way down here. Sir and Adam were fortunate enough to arrive home before the storm could brew to its extreme. Barely had this thought slipped through my mind when Adam walked into the parlour along with his usual air of significance and paused before the monotonous fog cloaked windows. Resisting the temptation to stop playing and ask this brother of mine if he had
never learnt from his mother to knock before entering I continued with my current engagement at the piano. A quiet moment dispatched, filled pleasantly by the notes of melody, when at last Adam spoke, disturbing the mute shush that he had so conveniently produced upon his arrival. “You must be wondering at my sudden arrival from the university just yesterday. I myself was moderately shocked when I received the letter from father saying that he was to see me in a weeks’ time at our estate. I for one did not know of the reason until my arrival. Now it is my turn to break the suspense and intrigue for both of you as I can clearly tell that it has been mystifying you for the past week or so” Pausing he looked back out into the boredom outside. My fingers had faltered upon the keys as he had begun his speech and I could sense that Marie was equally still on the couch she sat on. It had indeed been gnawing on me since the day the letter from Adam reached us, the mystery behind the sudden arrivals of both him and Marie were not, in my opinion, a mere coincidence. Though I had asked Marie more than a million times the only reply I was capable of obtaining from her was that she had been told by her mother to visit her dear friend and her daughter as it had been an immensely long period of time between their last meetings. Nothing was solved by this unfaltering answer and I was secretly conscious that she was hiding something behind her cheerfulness. “A ball is being held by Lord and Lady Thorn at their Thorn Mansion here in London. We have been invited to this spectacular event and so has every other reputable youth of good breed in the whole country. Father expects us to go as it is an event that just cannot be missed and he and mother have built hopes that we shall particularly meet many people worthy of our acquaintance” As the last of his words dimmed in the silent room I felt anger flush through me. Thus now they would make me go to a ball so that they could advertise me for want of wedding proposals from wealthy men who would carry me away from their mansion so that they could once again have peace and be deposed of me? In that case I would not enter that place for all I was worth. I would not go and broadcast myself like any common girl of the streets. Pride was still trickling through my veins and obsessions such as those of my obnoxious family could not strike it down or tame it like any other lion in the zoo. Then again I would be missing out on something major and however much I longed to stay away from that experience the lure would be too unbearable. And what if I did meet someone there? Someone supposedly like Edmund for example? As soon as this specific thought entered into the trance I was in, I crashed back down to earth and stopped thinking altogether should my mind wander to forbidden regions. A slow blush crept up my cheeks
and I was forced to remain quiet to avoid further attention to it- Marie could pick up on such miniscule details when most unwanted. Adam, however, continued his dialogue, without any further intermissions to allow his listeners to gather their scattered thoughts, and a majority of his words I missed while my brain had been analysing his previous words. “…so I hope to have enlightened you on the matter and now I must depart for Father wanted me to help him with the accounts in the library” Always the dutiful son, he walked out of the room just as he had strutted inside and left me alone with Marie. I sensed excitement bubbling up inside her before she spoke or made the faintest indication. Her heart beat was indeed very quick at the present. It passed my mind to ask myself how I could hear any such thing when suddenly my so called ‘quiet’ companion flew across the room, I secretly wished that Madam was here to see her precious Marie forgetting all sense of feminine grace, and hugged me- strangled me in fact. “Isn’t that just wonderful Belle? Imagine the people we will meet, the young men who we shall be introduced to. It will be the perfect completion for my visit here. Mother said it was to be a masquerade ball so I brought my blue silk chiffon ball gown and…” Before she could continue in her excited manner I interrupted her with a single word uttered with pure astonishment. “What?” Pausing, she looked at me as if she thought me deranged. “What do you mean by ‘what’?” “So I suppose your mother informed you of this ball and I also presume it evidently bypassed your mind to inform me of such a trivial matter as this” Sarcasm boiled in my words as I scowled at her with immeasurable irritation. Her head bowed a little as a guilty look appeared in her face. “I know this will sound senseless and pathetic but I didn’t mean to I just…” “Just forgot. Of course you would forget. Who wouldn’t forget that they were invited to a ball along with their friend whose parents wished to marry away as soon as fate allowed. Who probably think this event is the perfect opportunity to make me publicize myself. I perfectly understand your reasoning Marie”
We both blushed as I said this, me with embarrassment of revealing this news to her and she with more guilt than earlier. It was quiet for a few moments before Marie spoke again. This time I didn’t try to interrupt her. “I am sorry Belle. I really am sorry that I didn’t tell you before today. I know that as a friend I should have said something in the least but I didn’t and that makes me feel really ashamed” After a slight pause she continued much more quietly “I didn’t know that they wanted you out of the house so badly as to marry you away so immediately” “You haven’t known the majority of the things that have happened inside these walls. And if you did you never used to care” I replied equally slowly as I looked away. I didn’t want to see pity or more guilt in her eyes. “I don’t want you to think of me as the old selfish Marie anymore Belle. I really want us to be friends, actual friends. Tell me what I missed. Tell me everything”
Marie had truly changed. This was not something that was hidden for it was right there, everything about her personality, her feelings had undergone some major transformation. Even Madam noticed as the days flew by. She was clearly disapproving of this sudden alteration and I was absolutely certain that she believed me to be a bad influence on her.