Status: writing!



A few weeks turned into three months, as the visit of the master’s children was delayed for reasons such as ‘bad weather’ or an ‘unnerving state of health.’ The more delayed the visit became, the more my curiosity grew, filling the lonely days I had experienced after the first week of my residency with ideas that ran from my mind like wild animals. I hoped that whatever their characters may be, that they are interesting, unfathomably mysterious and in a dark thought- deformed. How it would captivate me if they turned out to be not people like us at all, but strange figures! In serious thought however, I wished them to breathe life into what has now settled into a very dreary life.

It was after dinner one night that Mrs. Bennett asked something of me to do. As I was sad to leave Elizabeth, who although unrefined deemed promising as well as a fit companion. By the look of everyone else, she and I may be closest in age. Leaving her and Genevieve to finish the puzzle we had started in the afternoon, I followed her up the flight of stairs and past my own bedroom to a door.

“This is one of the three rooms I need prepared.” She handed me fresh white sheets, “ready the bed and I’ll be back soon so we can have some nightly tea.” Leaving me slightly confused, I opened the wooden door- a fire blazing in the fireplace to warm up a room that has been left cold for months. It was a grand room, far grander than mine- I was grateful it was. The last thing I wanted was for the servants to feel there was a sort of unfairness.

It was finely decorated with deep green and gold, accented with dark floors and a large area rug that looked finely made. The large four post bed stood out above the two chairs pointed to the fireplace, the various tables, desk, and wardrobe. Pulling off the old sheets, I near choked on the dust that had settled on them. After the bed was refreshed, I did a bit of dusting before my attention was driven to a table near the fireplace. On the table was a miniature drawing of a man in what looks like his early thirties. Picking up the drawing and holding it to the fire, I examined it closely.

The sitter in this drawing was, as I said, a man in his thirties. The sketch was only of his face, but it could be decided that the muscular jaw line and sweeping forehead insinuated a strong athletic build. His hair, pencil black, as it was without color, turned upwards in the middle of his head, his side burns low, past his ears. So little acquainted with the opposite sex, I wasn’t sure if this man’s appearance was considered handsome. His forehead may be a little long and his lips firm and thin- but in my little experience, he was handsome in my eyes.

“I see you found the owner of the room.” I turned around quickly to see Grace, the maid from the night before. It was only until now I saw her features. She was small but well kept, around the age of the man whose picture I held. Her red hair was out of order due to the long day of preparation and her nose a bit crooked. But such deficiencies were ignored as there was only room for a person’s character in my heart.

I turned my attention back to the drawing, “I suppose I have. Which son is he of Mr. Winchester?”

Grace set down her laundry basket and stood next to me, studying the picture as I was doing earlier. “It’s James, no doubt. His elder brother is far better looking.” She took the sheets I had taken off from the bed where I had set them on the floor. But as she stood by the door she said, “Well don’t take my word for it, young girl. You can decide that for yourself!” And with an unbecoming laugh I heard her loud footsteps fade down the hall.

I traced the contours of the drawings lips, feeling sorry if it was not only Grace’s opinion of which brother was better. “There you are Jane! Grace passed me and said you were dreaming somewhere far off so I walked right past the room.” I quickly set the drawing back down, feeling a little degraded by Grace’s keen words. Although the sting was replaced by good humor since Mrs. Bennett took what she said seriously.

She threw water on the fire from a basin she carried underneath her right arm. And with that, the drawing was covered by darkness and I felt sad that I couldn’t gaze upon it longer. Mrs. Bennett and I quit the room and together walked towards the servant’s sitting room, in the back of the house, where we had sat before. Now servants were strewn across couches or reading books by the light of the candles and the roaring fire. The room was full of separate conversations, settling into a silent sort of murmur as Mrs. Bennett and I took our place by the fire with some tea.

Gingerly sipping my tea, I looked around to be sure Grace or any other servant wasn’t listening in on our talk. I wanted to be sure others didn’t hear my eagerness in the question, “What are Mr. Winchester’s children like?”

“Well the youngest is the girl, Anne- sweetest soul I have ever known, actually you remind me much of her. Although not as bright as you, for sure; she is very polite and has all the makings of being a good woman.”

“How old is Anne?” I asked.

Mrs. Bennett seemed to count the years on her fingers, “twenty six- no, seven. Twenty seven years old since January 26th.”

“You seem to know a lot about Anne, how long have you been here?”

“Longer thank you’ve been alive! That’s for sure. I began working at Melbourne when I was about twenty five, that being a little over thirty years ago. I’ve seen all three grow up! I see lesser of them every year, but that’s going to soon change.”

I became intrigued, at least more than I had been, “Why is that?”

“Well Mr. Winchester- God bless him, will be gone soon. There has to be a new master of the house!” It was silent for a moment as we thought of the poor master with his bad leg. “Dear me, I forgot to tell you of the boys!” I pretended to not seem too interested, although I drew nearer to her so I could hear what she had to say.

“The eldest, Robert Winchester, is forty two, since September 12th and is endowed to inherit everything.”

“Everything? What about the other two?”

“Well, see this is why their visit is so interesting- none of us know who will have what.” I sat back in my chair, slightly confused. “Although traditionally it is divided up equally, Mr. Winchester doesn’t want to divide and it’s clear he favors one above the rest. We don’t know which of the three, but by his nature that is rightly so.”

I silently agreed. “Is this his only property he owns?”

“Bless me child! No, not in the slightest. He has a large estate down in Kent, a small quaint country cottage in Surrey and a nice place in London. Besides those he has a Chateau in southern France.”

“Ah, I should’ve guessed! He must’ve been very successful in his endeavors. Which property, if you are at liberty to say, is the finest?”

“Melbourne of course, as it has been his home for years, although only Anne really grew up here. The boys were raised down at Gateshead, the estate in Kent.” I pictured the man in the drawing as a young boy and the idea of him running around the lawn of a great estate with his older brother in tow was a pleasing image to behold.

My head turned back towards Mrs. Bennett, away from the fire where I pictured the image in its embers. “You haven’t talked of the middle child.” I said matter-of-factly. I had shown no eagerness or serious interest as I would’ve if it wasn’t entirely within my right to say those words.

“James Winchester, thirty seven since March 9th- I cannot believe I forgot his birthday! It was just last week.” I would’ve pressed for more information, more insight on each of their characters, but realized that she wouldn’t know much of how they acted; the master of the house may not even know his own children’s characters! Leaving the kind woman to her thoughts, I bade her goodnight before taking a candle off the table and using it to lead me to my door, which I found successfully.

Just as I went to open my door, I heard a racket coming from a few doors down. Following the sound, I discovered it was coming from the same room I had been earlier- the room of James Winchester. The door was slightly open, but as my footsteps releasing an awful sound from the wood, I heard a set of different steps and by the time I pushed the door open, there was no one there. The room was pitch black, save for my candle, and the strong winds whistled at the windows, rattling the glass in such a way is was if a banshee had dropped by to wreak havoc.

Afraid that the intruder was still in the room, I only took a short turn of the room, pretending to be unaware that anyone had been there, but in fact an innocent maid checking to see if the room was prepared for a guest. The only indicator that I knew someone had been in that room was that the drawing on the table was missing. I did not acknowledge it in the slightest, fearing the bad spirit that stood in the shadows of the dark room would come into my own room and quiet me for eternity. Just as I stood at the door, I heard a hissing sound, the air extinguishing my candle. As calmly as I could, I walked to my room. I bolted my door from the inside and out of superstition searched the room for secret passage ways. As I lay in bed with a candle lit and a book in my lap, I assured myself- you can never be too certain.

I read Paradise Lost until falling into a fitful sleep. I dreamed that a shadowy entity covered in black stood above me as I slept. About to devour me, heart and soul, a man wrestled the figure tirelessly, becoming triumphant after stabbing the wild haunt. The man was none other than the one in the drawing.

I woke from my dream to find the room empty, noticing I had forgotten to blow out my candle. Punishing myself for having such a photogenic memory, I snubbed the candle, as well as any thought alluding to the mysterious intruder and the even more mysterious James Winchester.
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Besides the Jane Eyre soundtrack, (you must listen to Waiting for Mr. Rochester when you can!) I listen to A LOT of Dustin O'Halloran, another genius composer I discovered from the movie Marie Antoinette. Right now Opus 20 is playing and its decidedly one of my absolute favorites :)