Day 9 and on what should be a day with lots of time I of course found myself with lots to do and so much I wanted to change from yesterday.
But here we go. . .
The DeLaceys arrived on a Tuesday morning with the mail. Elizabeth and her father along with the two younger Frankensteins were ready out front to greet them. The cart had not yet come to a full stop before Agatha DeLacey, surprised all present, by leaping off and running to Elizabeth.
“My dearest, dearest Miss Lavenza,” she cried and hugged the startled Elizabeth, noisily planted a kiss on either cheek, then fell to her knees and hugged her skirts. The display would be replayed throughout the day by both the Frankenstein boys so entertained were they by this show.
It would take a few more minutes for Mr. DeLacey to make his way to them, once his daughter had collected herself and returned to help him down. It was a great relief to Elizabeth to find that there indeed was an old, blind father. She had begun to doubt her reason as the day approached, afraid that she would be proven a naive and foolish young woman for believing in all that had been shared within her friend’s precious communications. But here they both were, so far as she could tell, just as said.
Her father’s own misgivings seemed to have been allayed for the time, as it was he who took the old man in hand and guided him into the house for some late breakfast after their journey. The little luggage they brought with them was sent on to the cottage, where most of the necessary repairs were already made.
The morning passed quite pleasantly with small talk about the journey and at least the one DeLacey’s opinion of the surrounding countryside which was deemed magnificent. Afterwards the two ladies walked down to the lake where they strolled together arm in arm, while each of their fathers retired to their respective quarters for a much needed rest. The women made an interesting pair, with Agatha half a head shorter than Elizabeth and as dark as she was fair. Agatha turned out be more reserved than her initial outburst would indicate and did not speak much. Indeed both of them found themselves shyer around one another than they were in their letters and were mostly silent, but they enjoyed each’s company all the same.
The families rejoined one another at what turned into a noisy and happy dinner, with adults and children alike taking part in the conversation. And both Mr. Frankenstein and Mr. DeLacey very quickly discovered that they had acquired a new ally as each had to wave away their overly attentive daughters.
“Stop it my child. I am perfectly capable of feeding myself.” Mr. DeLacey was forced to say as Agatha attempted to put a fork into his hand. He had managed to successfully slap his daughter’s hand away earlier when she went to cut his meat.
“I am just trying to help in a new situation father. Not everything is exactly where it was in our previous home,” was her defense.
“I have been blind for a great many years and am quite accustomed to adapting my dear. I will find my way. Granted, I probably could not walk the hills here but in most things I am still most able. Do you find, Mr. Frankenstein, that your children consider you quite helpless?”
“They do certainly fuss Mr. DeLacey. I am sure if my Elizabeth had her way I would not leave my bed. She considers me at risk of all sorts of ills. You would think me an invalid and not just old.”
So it was the two fathers who dominated the table as they each commisserated over the lot of the older father and then with Mr. Frankenstein asking all sorts of questions about what state France had been when they last saw it and the two of them getting into excited conversation about favourite haunts and when had they been last and were they still there. And of course, they told various family stories, interrupted occasionally with an objection from one child or another as to their portrayal. It seemed that in looking for a companion for herself that Elizabeth had found the perfect one for her father.
It was later when they had retired to the main parlour and after some discussion of the DeLaceys’ more recent trials that Mr. Frankenstein brought up its most intriguing aspect.
“I must ask, Mr. DeLacey. What of this monster that your daughter spoke of? Does such a creature really exist?”
Agatha felt this to be her moment to join in the conversation and tell the tale but her father interrupted.
“Well Mr. Frankenstein, whether he be monster or man I cannot say for certain as I obviously did not see him. It must have been late afternoon when he arrived at the cottage and asked if he may warm himself awhile. And I would say I was aware of his having some bulk when he moved, but I cannot speak to his actual proportions.”
Agatha interjected at this point. “Father, he must have been 10 feet, at least 9 feet at any rate. He was gargantuan. And I had never seen a face like his Mr. Frankenstein, yellow and gaunt, cadaverous is the word I think. Yes, I would describe it as cadaverous.”
“Be that as it may my dear, he was very polite and well spoken. And he seemed to be in most dire need of aid. Having no ability to see, I must depend on other senses and I sensed nothing in his tone that would indicate a violent or malevolent character. I would describe him in fact as meek. Though I will say, he must have been observing us in secret for a great length of time for he alluded to some valued friends and teachers which I realized later in the conversation likely referred to us and I admit to finding that faintly disturbing. At the same time I know that some unknown protector had been assisting us in our daily toils and had brought great relief to my family by doing so. I believe that must have been him. Alas, it seems we will never know for sure, for giant or not, he managed to disappear without trace.”
Both boys’ ears pricked up with talk of a monster. “But what happened? Where did he go? Did you have to fight him?”
“That is the sad part of the tale my dears. For just as I was offering my assistance to him my children arrived and chased him away. Whatever his appearance may be, it certainly was enough to terrify them to the point that my daughter here fainted and my son struck him down and proceeded to beat him by kicking him and hitting him with a stick. Felix’s betrothed would not come in and was quite hysterical at seeing him.”
“But didn’t the monster fight back?” Ernest asked.
“This was of course my argument, for if monster he was, he could have torn my son from limb to limb, especially if he was of the stature that they all described, but he did not, and instead made the most terrible sound and ran off. I feel for him to this day.”
“I suppose my brother still wishes to think him a monster because of the terrible beating he laid on him. He does not want to think that he harmed a poor innocent,” explained Agatha. “Felix is usually such a gentle fellow.”
“There’s no such thing as monsters!” said an indignant William.
“I assure you there is young man.” The blind old man leaned over and seemed to look straight at this youngest of the Frankensteins. “And when you meet one, which I am afraid all of us do eventually, you will find him or her to be most human.”