So, now that the new year is here and I am returned to blogging, I thought I had better return to my story. A new installment to my Frankenstein tale.
After Mr. Frankenstein’s announcement, conversation turned to other topics — the wet fall weather, Ernest beginning a military career, the political state of Europe. Elizabeth hardly heard any of it. There was a strange whirring noise in her head and the room spun around her. Agatha said something amusing and everyone laughed. Elizabeth laughed with them, giving no hint of her inner turmoil.
Ever observant Agatha though, was mindful as ever and eventually asked, “Elizabeth are you alright?”
She looked up. “I’m sorry, I was lost in thought.”
“You look a little tired. You’ve had a busy week. Shall we get you upstairs?” Agatha rose.
“Yes, I am a little tired I suppose,” said Elizabeth and she obediently followed
The old gentlemen commented on the young being unable to keep up and said goodnight to their respective daughters without rising from their comfortable chairs. Agatha accompanied her friend to her room where Elizabeth sat down numbly on the edge of her bed. Agatha remained standing, silent and watching as Elizabeth repeatedly gripped and released the counterpane.
“I don’t understand. That’s not what happened. Not at all what happened. Why would he say such a thing? No promise was made. Nothing like that.” A stunned Elizabeth addressed some point in the darkness beyond the window. She smiled a weak smile and turned to Agatha. “That was a bit of a shock. I’m sorry. You must have been surprised yourself. That such an agreement might exist and that I would not tell you.”
Agatha, who had not been surprised at all explained, “The way you talk about Victor. The way you hover around him and he around you. The way the family talks about the two of you as if you are always a pair — you seemed to have an understanding, although it wasn’t clear what it was. I assumed that’s why you each call the other cousin, when you are sister to the others. . .or. . .or to Ernest, I should say.” Agatha lowered her eyes, momentarily lost as they were both reminded of their terrible grief. She collected herself again and continued. “So no, I wasn’t shocked by this evening’s announcement. What did shock me was your reaction. For up to this point I believed it what you wanted.”
Elizabeth looked at her with raised eyebrows. “I’ve never had those kinds of feelings for him. Have never really considered it before.” She then corrected herself. “No. . .no, I suppose I did think about it once, but not the way you might imagine. Firstly, I should make clear that what father said did not happen, not the way he said it did. My mother did join our hands it’s true, mine and Victor’s, but it was understood that it was not only Victor standing there, but that Ernest and William were present in spirit, that all our hands were joined. She took our hands and asked me to be mother to them — to her boys — and to care for them and nurture them as if they were my own children. There was no mention of Victor and I uniting in the future. I think one of the reasons she asked me to take care of Victor and the others was so that such a thing would not happen, so that I would never be looked upon that way by Victor. I resented that later when I realized what she had done, though I was very flattered at the time – that she considered me worthy to take her place. But he’s changed it. Why? I was asked to be mother to Victor, not wife, just as I was asked to be mother to Ernest and William.”
Agatha closed the heavy curtains as they gave thought to the matter. Elizabeth had already abandoned the notion that Victor was not sane. Victor was just as he always was in her eyes, driven, impetuous, sensitive, brilliant. Different to most people, certainly — that was part of his charm — but not mad surely. Nor did she give any thought to the notion that his father, old as he was, must himself be aware that he may not always be there to take care of his son at those times that he was less than rational.
She rose. “Well, there is no point to fretting over it now. Victor obviously has no feelings for me beyond the fraternal and will have the same recollection of his mother’s wishes as I have. My goodness, he has barely spoken to me since his return from Ingolstadt. He will set things straight with father when he gets back from his wanderings.” She embraced the doubtful Agatha and thanked her for her concern and her invaluable friendship.
“I think I will get ready for bed now for I find that I am indeed quite tired.”
Agatha found herself dismissed. They each bid the other a far too cheerful good night and retired to their beds.