Status: writing!



The sun shone through the thick red curtains that hugged the cold gray windows. I dressed quickly, but not without studying my room closer now in daylight and looking through my windows that revealed the gray and green hues of the moors, which appeared boundless by the human eye. Unacquainted with the layout of the hall, I followed the voice of a small girl which I figured to be my new student. After two left turns and a set of stairs I was the library, its three long windows open, letting in a cool breeze that always follows a harsh rain.

I focused my attention on the people in the room. Mrs. Bennett sat beside a woman and they both watched the little girl play with her dolls before them. This undoubtedly was Elizabeth. Her small eight year old self was busy narrating a conversation between two dolls, both with expensive lace dresses.

Elizabeth wore a striped dress that contrasted her pretty blonde hair. During the time she was unaware of my presence, I heard her laugh, such a bright and infectious laugh that I almost wanted to keep unseen just to study her. I pitied the small orphaned girl, I couldn’t find any reason, on the surface at least, why no one would want Elizabeth. I vowed that as her governess, I would also become a dear friend and as close a mother as I could be.

“Jane, you’re up earlier than I thought!” Mrs. Bennett rose, as did the other woman and the girl. “Elizabeth, meet Jane.”

The girl ran up so close that her chest was touching my skirts. “How do you do Miss Cranford? I’m most pleased to see you; I hope we’ll become great friends.”

The girl took my hand in her dainty little fingers, pulling me to her dolls. “Lizzie, she has no interest in your dolls,” the other woman smiled at the child. She held out a hand, which I took with the only other free hand I had. “Genevieve, nice to meet you.”

I gave a small laugh at the circumstances and returned the warm welcome, “Jane, same to you.” I had not been sitting long with Elizabeth before it was time for our breakfast, freshly made bread with jam and tea. I was ravenous since I had eaten so little on my journey the day prior. Our breakfast was interrupted by Mr. Winchester entering the kitchen where we sat. In this light I could see he was older than I had thought before. This time he had a walking cane with him, and by his deep-set wrinkles he looked to be in the middle of his seventies and his grave demeanor made me resolve even quicker that his time with the mortal world is limited.

“Mrs. Bennett, a word outside.” The woman quickly stood and made her way towards him. “I see Mrs. Cranford isn’t easily scared off, how are you this morning?”

I quickly swallowed a bite of bread, “Very well, sir. I’m happy to have met my new student.”

“I bet Elizabeth is just as thrilled if not more.” He smiled lightly before walking out with Mrs. Bennett. I silently ate the rest of my breakfast as Elizabeth told Genevieve and I all about her dream last night. I could not focus on the girl’s confusing trance, since I was too occupied with the change in Mr. Winchester. What a funny mood that old man had! I thought about this and the other strange happenings of Melbourne in the garden as I waited for Elizabeth and Genevieve to meet me. I sat on a bench below a billowing tree when Mrs. Bennett came rushing towards me, her complexion red with excitement.

“Mrs. Bennett! What’s the matter?” The old woman did not sit but waited a few seconds to catch her breath.

“I’ve just heard the most wonderful news! Mr. Winchester’s two sons and daughter are due to arrive in the coming weeks!” I waited for the exciting news; my lack of enthusiasm must’ve told her so. “If you must know Jane, those three rarely come to Melbourne, once a year if anything! The poor master rarely has guests besides, since all of his friends are either dead or ill.” I nodded as she finally sat down, twisting her hands in her apron.

“Would you like my help in cleaning and preparing for their arrival?” I asked politely, not sure if I should share in her excitement.

“We have plenty of servants to do that work, but I haven’t told you the most exciting part- there is to be a ball the night they arrive, and their friends are coming from all over England! A ball at Melbourne Hall- that hasn’t happened in ten or so years!”

“If his children rarely visit, what prompts them to do so now?”

“Well it’s well-known through the house that the infection Mr. Winchester had in his right leg has spread.” She looked down at her hands before saying, “we don’t know how much longer he’ll be with us.” I looked down as well, suddenly feeling a bit sad for the man whose children never call.

I sat up straighter when I remembered what I wanted to ask her. “Mrs. Bennett,” I waited until she met my gaze, “not to impose, but can you tell me who exactly that woman was last night?”

“Woman? Oh, you mean Bessie! I am so sorry you had to see that dear. There isn’t much to tell, Mr. Winchester claimed no one had seen her fall and called it as a mere accident.”

This answer did not suit my curiosity in the slightest. “Then why was she screaming that someone had taken her child?”

Her eyes grew darker. I almost retracted my question due to the guilt of inflicting this poor woman with memories of the past, but she did answer. “A long while ago, when Bessie was about the age of you dear, she became with child shortly after marrying her husband Richard. One night she called for the doctor in town since the young baby was very sick. Due to inclement weather, Bessie had no other choice but to bear through the rain-“

“Where was Richard?” I blushed, embarrassed that I had spoken out of turn.

“I’m not quite there yet- you’re an impatient thing aren’t you? Richard was away, he was a parson and helping a family overnight at some corner of Derbyshire. Before she could make it to town, a group of gypsies came upon her, and while one man held Bessie, the women ran off with her baby!” She paused to let in sink in, and so it did. I don’t recall anything of the sort happen in all my life, but since Bessie’s accident I’m beginning to learn that Melbourne is not at all what it seems.

Pulling myself from my thoughts, I realized Mrs. Bennett had stopped telling the story. “Well, did Bessie get her baby back?”

She slowly shook her head. “I’m afraid not, Jane. Mr. Winchester was kind enough to offer her a position at Melbourne upon hearing of her worst luck. But every time it rains as hard as it did last night, Bessie painfully relives that night, acting out without warning.”

“Is Richard still alive?” Although never meeting Bessie, I grieved for her internally so.

“Died only two years ago, the master figured it was of a broken heart. Says it’s only a matter of time before hers breaks as well.”

I would’ve asked more questions, there was so much about Melbourne to be learned! I not only want to take residence in the hall, but to be as knowledgeable as I possibly could on its happenings. Elizabeth and Genevieve were walking towards us and as Mrs. Bennett and Genevieve left for further preparations, my thoughts soon turned to Mr. Winchester’s children. I suppose I should’ve been more enthusiastic, as I am now. As I taught Elizabeth species of flowers in the beautiful garden, I could not tear myself from the stray thought that this visit could bring even more troublesome events to the hall. My curiosity held me the rest of the day.
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If it is not by now obvious, this has been inspired by Jane Eyre- look at my profile journal entry for an explanation on why I chose such a topic. And before you try to contact the author and tell her I'm plagiarizing her work (it'd be rather hard to reach the author, as it is Charlotte Bronte and she wrote Jane Eyre in 1847) I promise as it is like it in many ways (it could be argued that every love story is tied to Jane Eyre, but save that for another time), it is different- plot- for the most part, characters, writing and all. :)