And here is installment 2 of day 24. Hurray!!
With the trial over and Justine dead, Mr. Frankenstein decided it was time to return to Geneva. The house at Belrive no longer provided the cheer it was known for. Nor did the lake or any of the walks. He declared that a change was called for.
The family was not in any way repaired by the trial’s conclusion. Victor and Elizabeth continued in their belief that Justine was innocent. Ernest and their father were content with the verdict of the judges, as was most of the household staff. There was naturally friction. And Victor’s darkness was taking hold. As the household busied itself with packing up, Victor brooded in various locations within the house and without, guilt gnawing at every organ.
Agatha tried to shake her friend of her conviction, or at least to silence her on the topic of Justine. Elizabeth may not have been subject to Victor’s dark brooding, but she was eaten up in her own fashion and would often speak of “the terrible injustice.”
Agatha explained, “The staff were initially grateful for your display of loyalty to one of their own, but they are beginning to find it ghoulish and cruel. They loved William and think it a betrayal of him and your family to carry on so. They will grow to distrust you.”
Elizabeth was very much hurt by her friend’s lecture and would not speak to her for days.
“That Justine Moritz murdered young William there can be no doubt,” said Agatha’s father when they were discussing the falling out. “That Elizabeth cannot know this is equally inarguable. You yourself have pointed out on many occasions how Elizabeth sought to cover for Justine’s shortcomings. To admit that Justine killed her brother would mean that she had abetted in the crime.”
“But, father, that is ridiculous. Elizabeth is not responsible for Justine’s actions!”
“I think Elizabeth would argue with you,” pointed out Mr. DeLacey. “The girl takes on the troubles of all, and believes herself responsible for everyone and everything. Even now, when she should be quietly mourning her loss, she is busy helping with this move. I don’t know what Alphonse is thinking causing such disturbance at a time like this, but he is a father grieving and I will not argue with him.”
“There is one thing I cannot understand,” said Agatha. “Why did Justine maintain her innocence after she had confessed? She had nothing to gain by it — her fate was sealed. But Elizabeth and her brother suffer so.”
“You have already answered your question. To inflict yet another wound,” replied her wise father. He grinned. “Or maybe she had heard our own tale, and thought that Elizabeth would release her in the night in the way we led Safi’s father away just before he was to be executed.” He grew serious again. “I can only imagine what happens when one confesses in one ear and protests in another. But if it is of consolation, I am absolutely certain what happens to the soul of a young, innocent boy cut down as William was. We can all take solace in knowing that the anguish and miseries visited upon us, the living shall never touch him.”
“Poor Elizabeth, to have made such a mistake in caring for a girl like Justine,” sighed Agatha.
“Do not think ill of the actions of your friend. It is the saddest truth, that all the kindnesses visited on Justine, regardless of her character, were right and good. Sometimes the right thing is rewarded with sorrow. It is only in the beyond that we receive that which we have earned.
“Anyway, my child, I have spoken to a number of people on this topic and I believe the talk will stop and your friend will be looked upon kindly again. And you my dear are to hold your tongue. All involved are now dead. Nothing can be changed by a change of opinion.” He considered the subject over.
“But, father, what of truth? Isn’t it important that she know and accept the truth?”
“Your friend is not a fool. I am sure that one day the truth will come to her without any of your assistance. And it will arrive when she is of such a maturity that it will not break her. Right now she is in a very delicate state, no matter how she darts about the house, helping here and there. I wish she would follow the lead of that one brother of hers and just brood a bit and leave everyone else to do the work. Really they should trade places, for he broods far too much, if what I hear is correct.”
The subject was now truly finished and Agatha gave her father a hug, grateful for his wisdom.
Mr. DeLacey was quite correct in his assessment of Victor. He was completely and utterly consumed with grief. Far beyond anyone else in the house. And he was beginning to speak of monsters. Elizabeth was starting to feel just a little afraid for him. She almost wished that he had failed in his loyalty to her and Justine. For if he could think Justine guilty, then this would all now be over for him and it would be one less grief. As it was, the loss of Justine racked him more than WIlliam’s horrible end, she was certain.
It was then that she had a thought. It made perfect sense to her…