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While its song was faint—for the creature was most likely perched in the trees off in the garden—it was still loud enough to cause my eyes to flutter open and my mind to be brought into wakefulness. Sitting up, I noticed that my mouth was very dry and my brain felt hazy, as if it were filled with the fog that so oft rises from the sea. I also came to the realization that, once again, I had gotten my night's rest in the window sofa of the library. I swung my legs over the edge of the seat and tested them. As soon as I put weight on my legs, I fell back on the cushions. I heard the clattering of pots and pans as the servants began to prepare for breakfast and, hearing this, I knew that I would need to get upstairs very soon because my mother would awaken soon as well. I was unsure how I could make it up two flights of stairs with my legs being in the state that they were in now. Glancing around the library, an idea came to me. Standing again, and clutching onto the window curtains for support, I took a few shaky steps. I managed to stumble to the armchair by the hearth, and eventually, by using the support of the various other pieces of furniture placed around the room, made it to a table that had a decanter with some sort of drink—most likely wine, and two glasses. I grabbed a glass and poured into it a small amount of the drink. Normally, reader, I do not drink, and I especially do not drink at the day's first light, but this was a situation where I felt that I could make an exception. I took a sip and, confirming that it was indeed wine, I took a larger gulp. Stifling a cough, as I was not used to the sharp bite of the alcohol, but I felt that the bracing effect would provide me with enough strength to get upstairs to my room. This proved true, and I was able to cross to the doorway and out into the hall to begin my ascent up the stairs.
In my room, I slowly changed out of my nightdress and into a grey linen day dress. I was completely at a loss of two things: one—where Mary was, since she is charged with helping me dress in the morning, since I needed even more help than usual this morning. Then two—how I managed to tie the strings on my corset without any of Mary's aforementioned assistance. If you are unaware of the complexity of a corset, reader, I will tell you that it is difficult enough to tie by yourself, but if you are weak and are suffering from a lack of sleep, and from the weakness of nerves, than it becomes close to impossible to maneuver without any help. I finally finished, my corset was on, my day dress properly buttoned, and my hair had been pinned up—or at least my hair was pinned enough to be out of my face. The remainder of my morning toilette was quite simple: I washed my face, which was red and slightly feverish from my efforts. I then crossed to the door, hesitating before I actually turned the knob. I crossed back to the jewelry box sitting on the top of a bureau, where I had my pocket watch stored. It was a rather obvious place for such a special and secretive object, but my mother had no reason to be suspicious of me and my actions, so I felt confident in keeping my treasure hidden in the box. Tucking the watch into my pocket, I suddenly felt better—not physically, but I felt more at ease in my mind as I opened the door and walked downstairs to the breakfast room, where I could tell tea was just now being poured. I knew that I was only a moment tardy, which would hopefully not warrant a reprimand by my mother, however, considering the events of the previous night's dinner, anything was possible. Walking into the breakfast room, I saw that I was the only one present. Confused, I sat down at the table and prepared my tea, stirring in sugar and milk, in the exact increments that I like. My mother walked in as I placed my spoon on the saucer. She sat in her customary place and looked at me, looking preoccupied—she was probably still pondering over the events of last
night, and what she could do (if anything) to repair the damage that had been done. My father came in a moment later. ―What did you think of Mr. Mortimer, Eleanor?‖ My father was trying to ruffle my mother's metaphorical feathers—and it was rather effective, for she inhaled sharply and directed an icy look at him, who merely smiled and opened his paper after he had been seated. Looking between the two of them, I could not tell if the question was rhetorical or not, so I remained silent and sipped my tea. There was a long period of silence, with the clattering of spoons and forks being tapped against dishes. Food was the last thing on my mind, which my mother, of course took notice of. ―Why are you not eating Eleanor? You look a little pale, you should eat something.‖ This had a surprisingly maternal tone, but I felt that even a soft cake or square of toast would be far too difficult for me to eat; I was still feeling quite weak, for the effect of the wine seemed to have worn off. ―I will be alright, mother,‖ was my reply, and she ceased the subject, thankfully. Breakfast finally finished, I desired to go back into the library. I wanted to be the last one to leave the breakfast room because I knew that if my mother or the servants saw how I stumbled on my way to the library, there would have been much fuss made over some potential medical condition. The doctor would be called on, and I would be stuck in my room for days being waited over and guarded like a prisoner. Reaching the library, I had to stop for a moment to sit and regain a small modicum of strength before I scoured the bookshelves for the book I desired. My day was going to be spent in a deep scholarly haze; I wanted to look through every volume in the house in an attempt to discover the source and cause of the strange occurrences that have plagued me the two nights past.
I sat on the sofa in the window, which looks out onto a large section of the grounds and the garden; from there, a dirt road is visible—to the right leads travelers to –shire, the small town that lies two miles or so from Wakefield Manor, then to the left is a small incline which houses the graveyard. This graveyard contains the past members of both Wakefield and citizens of – shire; even though the graveyard is technically on my family's property, we have always allowed others to utilize the space—for, historically, my family is not as bourgeois and tyrannical as other families in our social selecting books on psychology, philosophy, mythology, literature, history, and biology—for I wanted to get as much information as possible, after all, you never know what may prove helpful when you are looking for answers such as mine. I began with a biological textbook, which seemed only natural, since biology is where we all begin. Thinking that not only would this would be a good place to start, but it would also be one of the more helpful books that I had selected. I made a few other selections and had to carry them all to my place on the sofa in a few trips back and forth, resting and regaining strength between each departure. Finally, I had collected all the books that I deemed would be helpful, and I was now able to sit and begin my research. I arranged the pillows in such a way so that I would not need to move about much during the day; and flipping through the leaves of the textbook, began to read. I will skip over what I discovered, reader, for I did not discover much. I did become distracted by some of the subject matter in many of the books, because I found it intensely interesting, but that is irrelevant to the task at hand. Thoroughly frustrated at not finding anything even remotely helpful, I looked up and realized that the sun was beginning its decent behind the horizon. I looked outside onto the garden and the road that runs alongside Wakefield manor. If you were to follow the road to the left, you would be led to the graveyard. Gradually, I felt the
same haziness that I had felt the night before, and I grew increasingly unaware of everything else around me, as if I were in some sort of trance. I attributed this haziness to a lack of sustenance, for I had not eaten anything all day, and had ignored the call for afternoon tea. Almost as if she had been summoned by my thoughts, someone appeared to bring me to the table for dinner. I didn't fully become aware of her presence until I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. I was quite caught off guard and startled and I jumped slightly. I turned to find Mary, with an odd look on her face. ―Dinner has been placed at table, Miss Eleanor. I am here to bring you into the other room.‖ I moved the book that was lying open on my lap and stood, fighting very hard to control my body, so as to not alarm any suspicion of my physical weakness. ―Where were you this morning, Mary? I needed your assistance getting dressed this morning,‖ I asked as she led me to the dining room, which was emitted as a stern reprimand and was harsher than I had intended. It did not seem to effect Mary much, however. ―I am very sorry, Miss Eleanor, you father requested my presence very early this morning and you were already at breakfast when he dismissed me.‖ I could judge from her countenance that there was more to her story, but I had not the strength to question her further, and I was much too angry to desire an answer. She led me into the dining room and I sat down in my customary place. Even though my body was in need of food and nourishment, I could not bring myself to eat any of the food placed in front of me, other than a few sips of a broth that was served as the first course. This did make me feel a little better, but my thoughts were elsewhere. I could hear my mother discussing something, but I was unsure to whom she was speaking, either my father or myself. I sat and stared listlessly into my bowl of broth until my mother's words finally reached my brain.
―Eleanor, please pay attention! I have been speaking to you for a few moments now, and you are clearly lost in your thoughts!‖ ―I'm sorry mother, I am distracted. I was reading something interesting before I was called in to dinner. What were you saying?‖ This wasn't all that was causing my mind to focus elsewhere, but it was enough to satisfy her. ―I am stopping your lessons with Miss Smith. Permanently.‖ My mother lifted her glass to her lips and took a sip of water. Miss Smith was my governess and had been so for many years. ―What? Why?‖ I ejaculated. ―Why? It is because you are too old to be concerning yourself with such things. You should be refining your accomplishments so we do not have another incident like last night.‖ I was furious. My eyes blurred with rage and I could feel the blood rush to my face and my heart beat rapidly. ―Miss Smith will be let go in the morning.‖ My mother gave me a look which translated that the conversation was finished. My mind raced and my heart beat even faster; I had never had feelings come on so strongly before. Reason had fled and my rational mind was defeated by anger, personified as a large, crimson monster that was thirsting for blood. Feeling that I had escalated into full-blown passion, I slammed my hands on the table and stood; this action caused many glasses to topple over, including my father's wine, which began to bleed into the white linen tablecloth that had been set, and some of my broth sloshed over on to the table top as well. Both my mother and my father looked utterly dumbfounded, in reaction to my abrupt and uncharacteristic paroxysm. I shot a look of Hellfire at my mother, turned, and used the last bit of my energy and strength to
run out of the dining room and up the stairs to my room. The sound of my bedchamber door slamming echoed through the silent household. *** I was laying on my bed, looking at the ceiling. I was still livid, even though I knew that these feelings were futile. My mother was going to fire Miss Smith regardless of my desire to continue my lessons. I felt my anger level lower ever so slightly, when I heard a tapping on the door. ―Please go away!‖ I felt on the verge of tears; I was tired; I was angry—at my mother, at the fact that I had fruitlessly searched for the answer to a question that I was beginning to think that was unanswerable. My visitor tapped on the door once more; sighing, I called out: ―Enter.‖ In response, the door was opened, revealing the figure of my father. I rolled over onto my side, my back to him; in doing this, I had hoped that he would assume that I did not want to speak to anyone. Ignoring this sign, my father sat down on the bed next to me. ―Eleanor. I brought you something.‖ My father said, tenderly. ―I don't want it! I don't want any of this!‖ I replied. ―I know, but I wanted to tell you that you are not in need of Miss Smith.‖ ―How could you say that? You, who has always treasured educational enrichment and encouraged me to learn a vast array of subjects other than the trivialities of the stanBecause of you and Miss Smith, I know about the history of the world, a deeper understanding of mathematics, biology, a small grasp on chemistry—‖ Now the tears did come. I did not even attempt to hide them, not caring that my sobs could be heard by my father. ―But Eleanor, you have mastered your accomplishments, Miss Smith has told me on many occasions that she is at a loss of what to teach you. However, even if you no longer have a governess, that doesn't mean that, you have to cease your learning. You learn from everything
you do! Your experiences in life are just as valuable as any lesson from a teacher or a book. You also have me...‖ I turned to face my father, his countenance revealed concern. ―I don't understand. Please, father, just tell me plainly what you are talking of.‖ ―What I am saying, Eleanor, is, you are intelligent. You no longer need a teacher, because you can be your own teacher. When I go to the city again, I will scour every bookstore in search of new books and tools, so you can learn everything you can about every subject. This is the best way to go about these types of things! Miss Smith is an excellent governess and a delightful woman, but she has taught you everything she knows; you must now take matters into your own hands.‖ I paused and thought about what my father was telling me, and only one thought came to mind: ―What about mother?‖ ―She will not find out, will she? You have become quite apt in hiding things from your mother, haven't you?‖ He gave me a look that intimated to me that he knew more than I thought. ―What are you talking about?‖ I decided I would test him, rather than providing him with more information than he may or may not have had. ―I am talking about the watch that is hidden in your pocket.‖ He smiled slightly, and bent over to kiss my tear-stained cheek. ―Do not worry, love. There are larger things that we should concern ourselves with than the secret bauble hidden in your pocket.‖ And with that, he stood, walked to the door, and wished me goodnight, then left, closing the door behind him. I reflected on the previous moments, smiling at the fact that only yesterday morning, I was in my father's study, consoling him and reassuring him, and now he came to my room to comfort me. I rose from my bed and removed my shoes then I took off my day dress and untied the laces of my
corset. I remained in my chemise and put myself onto my bed again, without turning down the bedclothes and instantly fell into a much needed slumber. ***
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