Day 8 and most of it spent not writing, and most of the writing done on major fixups of what I did yesterday. Time to continue the rest here.
If she gave it any thought, it was really the loss of Victor that Elizabeth felt so acutely. From the very first he had taken hold of Elizabeth with all the passion and self-importance that a child of his age carried. He praised, criticized and trained her as brother, cousin, teacher and closest friend. She accepted all this with happy, if stunned gratitude, and learned how to return the same favours. He pushed her where he thought her too careful and she slowed him where she thought him dangerously impetuous. Their opposite temperaments magnetized one to the other and they had spent every day since her arrival together in close conference. Now they had been apart for close on four years and she feared for him. Her mood would be entirely different if he was here. She felt so helpless, adrift. At least if he would write, write sensibly she could provide some sort of advice. Since he had been ill his letters had been odd, half scratched out, disjointed things with almost no personal information contained within their few sheets. He had been a most dependable correspondent his first year away and then things changed. Now, when she read his letters to her father she found herself filling in imagined details in order to prevent his worrying, so changed were they from what they were initially accustomed to. And it wasn’t this terrible sickness of his that had caused the change. Their decline had begun a year, perhaps as much as two years, before Henry found him feverish, emaciated and raving. They had all attributed his reduced communications as simply the excitement of university and the natural course as boy grows to man. It seemed reasonable that he would find new friends, new interests and new passions and that his family would be somewhat reduced in importance. This especially so in a family as happily insular as theirs. But for all that, the letters that had arrived were wrong. They were terse and haphazard or longer rants on topics she did not understand. What had taken hold of him? Something had happened during his studies in Ingalstadt and it had altered him greatly.
Granted, Victor had always been slave to his passions, but he burned through them and was returned no worse for wear. Perhaps a little tired and red-eyed after nights of reading by poor light, or battered and bruised after some ill-thought excursion, but safe and full of contrite apologies for whatever feelings or objects were hurt in the process. And as his family was filled with like minds, nobody worried or objected too much. In fact, most times they were filled with noisy admiration at his tenacity, his clear brilliance. Elizabeth held her tongue on these occasions until it was just themselves. Then she would lecture him soundly and Victor would hang his head and accept her opinions as truth.
Elizabeth gave up on her accounts. She had managed to leaf through all her papers without seeing even one. She decided to write Victor another letter. This one would not be filled with the usual entreaties. These had failed to raise his spirits or reveal anything of what horrors had befallen him and continued to trouble him so. She would write about Justine. Perhaps the distraction of smaller, more domestic affairs would turn him from his darker thoughts and bring his mind back to family and home. She related Justine’s sad history, told of the death of her poor siblings one by one and the eventual death of a mother that showed nothing but hatred towards her. She wrote of how the girl had changed so upon her return, how she was often ill and how she was no longer able to perform her duties in the same manner as prior to her leaving. Justine had suffered a terrible ordeal and like Victor, had returned feverish and much changed in temper. She had also been a particular favourite of his late mother’s. Perhaps he would feel a kinship towards her situation and reveal something of his own.
When her task was completed Elizabeth felt much improved and a renewed sense of her own good fortune. She folded and addressed the letter and took it down stairs. She realized afterwards that she had told him nothing of their pending guests and their own fascinating histories, but that was probably for the best. She would wait until she could measure them in person before putting their tale to paper.