Day 30 – b.The promise

elizabeth lavenza - nanowrimo countLast installment of November.  Ending with 28,855 words.  Had hoped to get over 30,000 at least but I can live with it.  Will keep going anyway.  Hopefully I’ll hit the 50,000 mark for my next nanowrimo.

 

The house was calmer without Victor.  It was curious the effect he had on the household, even when in his bed.  Elizabeth naturally worried about him.  It was what she did.  And it was strange to be without him again.  Agatha made sure she left the house that day and they stopped for tea and pastries.

“You certainly do spoil me, Agatha,” said Elizabeth as they sat drinking their tea.

Agatha thought this a strange thing to say as this was being billed to Elizabeth’s father.

“I am not paying for this.  I’m the one being spoiled.”

“Yes, but I would never do this for myself,” replied Elizabeth.  “Thank you for suggesting it.”

“You need to have your time, Elizabeth.  You are forever doing things for everyone else.  If Victor can have his ramble in the mountains, you can certainly have a pastry.”

“I can manage with or without a day out,” explained Elizabeth, “but Victor’s constitution requires these escapes.  I think one of his difficulties is that he was shut up in a school for so long.  He should have occasionally come home and visited the lake.  I think he would have been far better for it.”

“Perhaps he needs less time to himself and his thoughts,” suggested Agatha, who thought the family indulged his moods far too much.

“No.  I understand Victor.  He needs that time with his thoughts.”

“You realize that he is insane.”

“You don’t understand.  He is not quite himself.  Certainly he has always been sensitive, but this is something more.  He was very ill at Ingolstadt.  Henry suspects some terrible calamity but could get no information.  Those at the school suggested he was simply overworking and became ill, but I believe Henry.  And then the shock of the loss of William and then Justine.  Well, you know my theory about Justine.  I think it’s all just too much for a man of his nature.  Give him some time to himself wandering his mountains and he will be improved.  I’m afraid you have not seen him at his best.”

“Well, I might be a bit more lenient if he would remember my name.  Who was this Belle?  I suppose she was a servant.”

“Yes she was, quite a long while ago.  But she left when she married the gardener.  It was quite a surprise.  How did you know?”

It seemed quite clear to her, as Victor only ever noticed her when he needed something fetched.  Which she happily did for him as it meant that Elizabeth didn’t need to.  But she kept that to herself and instead replied: “Just a guess.”

Elizabeth had been somewhat, though not entirely, offended at her friend’s suggestion that her brother, cousin, closest friend, all that Victor was to her, was insane.  She passed it off as Agatha’s attempt at humour and gave it little thought.

 

The next night they were all in the library with the two fathers sitting by the fire and the talk drifted to family matters and for some reason to the death of her mother, Caroline.

“Elizabeth stayed with her the entire time,” explained Mr. Frankenstein, “though she was not well herself.  Tended to her so diligently.  My wife adored her so.  She was never strong, my Caroline.  I suppose she always knew that she would die young.  She was more prepared for it than I was.  I assumed at my age I would be first.”

Mr. DeLacey nodded.  “My wife died young also.  She was having our third child.  They both died.  To expect more life to enter our home and then suddenly lose a life instead —  it was quite a shock.”

There was a time of silence as everyone stared into the fire, even Mr. DeLacey.

“One good thing came of it,” said Mr. Frankenstein.  “It was at her death bed that Victor and Elizabeth were promised to one another.  She took their hands and joined them together explaining that our greatest happiness, her greatest happiness was in the expectation of their union.  They both agreed and that bond has remained.”

Agatha looked to her friend who had suddenly gone pale.

That was not what had happened at all.  She had only promised to be a mother, not a wife.  It was only then that Elizabeth realized that Agatha was right.  Victor was insane, had probably always been so.  And that she had just been promised to a mad man.

 

 

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Day 30- a. Meeting

Just over 28,000 words at this point, so I guess I will arrive late. But I will keep going.  About to start another installment.

The creature loved the mountains.  It was in the mountains that the advantages of his body could be truly appreciated.  Scaling a rock, jumping over a crevice or, as on this day, skipping over cracks in an ice field left him with a great sense of accomplishment.  These were his activities after his game of flirting with various villages and hamlets grew tired.  This day though brought additional benefit, for in the distance he was certain he saw his maker.  He stopped to make sure that it was not simply his imagination.  The figure grew closer and he confirmed it.  And as he appeared to be enjoying the mountains as much as his abandoned son, he thought the meeting to be particularly fortunate.  He could offer his condolences for the loss of his brother and they could converse on the majesty of the Alps.  He gave a little clap and bound towards him as if on air.

It seemed natural to the creature that they would eventually meet and meet just like this.  The man was his father after all.  Their paths would surely cross.  Victor though, assumed conspiracy.  That the creature existed somewhere beyond his maker seemed impossible and he believed him ever present, even when unseen.  It was equally unfathomable to Victor that the monster’s thoughts may dwell on anything but him, their obsessions must be equal.

“Accursed wretch!” Victor cried. “Even in this place of solitude you haunt me!  Have you not done enough?  Leave me to my misery before I throw you from the edge.”

The creature stopped for a moment.  He had not expected a warm greeting certainly, but he had not anticipated hatred either, just discomfort at being discovered.  But he would not lose this opportunity, he continued in his course until he was before him.

“I cannot leave,” explained the creature.  “We are  tied, you and I.  Can we not speak but a little?”

Victor shrank from him as if struck.  “Hideous fiend!  How dare you approach after all you have done!”  He raised his walking stick.  “Get away or I will drive you away.”

“I only wish to talk.  There is so much I do not know.”

Victor shook his head and brought his stick down hard.  The creature blocked it with his arm and a terrible pain shot through him, but it was his wounded heart that hurt him most.

“You fool, I was born into pain,” said the creature with more fatigue than anger.  He pulled the stick away and tossed it onto the ice where it landed with a thud.  “I am a stitched together being, a collection of wounds given life.  Do you think you can threaten me?  What pain, physical or spiritual do you think you can inflict upon me, your rejected son, that I have not already endured?”

“I can remove that dreadful spark that I so negligently bestowed upon you!”

“I may have gratefully allowed you to do so two years previous, such was my agony.  But now I treasure my life, for all its miseries.  You shall not have it.”

Victor threw himself at his monstrous creation, intent on his destruction.  He easily sidestepped the attack and Victor fell and skidded along the rocks.  The creature offered a hand, but he rejected it, getting up under his own power and backing away in disgust.

“Please, stop this nonsense dear father,” implored the creature.  “You created my frame to be superior in all ways to your own and in that you succeeded.  You cannot defeat me physically and only risk your own self.  Be still and listen.  I have only come to speak with you.  To convince you of your own success and ask a few questions about my self.”

“Murderer!  Devil!  Fiend!  You ask to speak with me after all that you have done!

“What have I done?!  Other than to suffer as you made me!  An outcast!  A monster!  Rejected by all who see me.  Left when newly made without help or understanding.  And yet for all these disadvantages I have made a life for myself, pitiful as you may regard it.”

“What have you done?!  You pretend not to know?!”  Victor threw himself at the creature again who once more eluded the attack.

“I am the victim here.  You are the one who created a life and deserted it.  You say I am not wronged?”

“What of William!  What of Justine!” Victor spat.  “No, whatever debt I had you long since took payment on.”

“I do not understand.”

“Are you going to try to play the innocent — claim that you are not responsible for their deaths?”

“I am innocent,” replied the creature.  “I could not take a life, not even yours, although I contemplated it often in the past.”

“Liar!  I will not speak to you.  You are filled with nothing but hatred and deceit.  Admit that you murdered my brother.  I need to know.  Tell me or you will receive nothing from me.”

“You misunderstand me entirely.  I did not commit the murder.  It was a girl.  I knew William and loved him.”

“How dare you even speak his name!”  Victor attempted another attack, holding the beast with the aim of throwing them both off the mountain, although the edge was too far.  The creature, becoming angry at this game pushed him down and glared at him.

“Of course I killed your beautiful brother,” he said, wanting to wound his maker the only way he could.  “He was yours!”

Victor sat on the wet ground, satisfied, then abused them both verbally, as he wallowed in his self-pity.  The creature sat across from him and waited for his ravings to finish.

“Oh that I had never been born,” Victor sighed atlast, his energy spent.  “Or that I had never had that first terrible thought, that fire in the brain that consumes all.  Oh that I had never conceived of you.”

The creature saw that he would now be listened to.  “Let me tell you of my life,” he said gently.  “Come, follow me.  It is getting wetter.”

They entered his lair and he lit a fire.  He told Victor of his awakening, of his wanderings, of the DeLaceys, and of how often he stared at his notebooks wondering if he was truly alone.  Victor stared into the fire muttering through most of it.  The creature wasn’t even sure that he heard any of it at all.  He was about to get to William and his wonderful houses, thinking that he could now retract his false confession and explain the events properly, but Victor suddenly jumped up and yelled:  “No!”

“What?  What is it?”

“A companion.  You want a companion.  I won’t do it!”

“But are there not others,” asked the creature.  “You have many sketches in your books, and almost all of them are of others.  Three books and only the last ten pages are of me.  Do I not have brothers and sisters?  Where are they?”

“There are no others,” was the reply.  “You are alone, my first and only one.  I will not make another fiend as yourself.”

“I have not asked such a thing.  The only companion I ask for is you, my father.  Do I not deserve family and friendship as others have?  You created me, you have a duty towards me.”

“I will not do it!  I will not make another.” Victor cried again seeming not to hear and ran from the cave.

The creature watched him a while, as he scampered across the ice and then paced back and forth shouting and gesturing as if in argument.  The man was truly mad and the creature found himself actually feeling sorry for him.  Eventually the imaginary argument ceased and he collapsed.  The creature debated going to his aid, but he needn’t have worried, for it only took a minute or two for him to get up and find his mule.  He climbed on and left, still raving.

 

 

Instalment 23 – The Trial

Day 23, and over 1700 words.  If only had routinely had that count at the beginning.  Still, pleased with my progress.

So here’s the next instalment…

Victor arrived home to a dark and sombre house.  The house at Belrive was usually the one full of light compared to the more formal Geneva house, but its light was now extinguished.  His arrival barely marked 5:00 in the morning, but the servants had heard the horses pull up and so someone was there to greet him.  It was only then that he realized he brought no luggage and felt strangely embarrassed at what must be the state of his attire.  No one appeared to notice though, but simply guided him to his room and told him that they would draw a bath for him.

“You will no doubt need one after so great a journey.  The family won’t be up for a while.  Would you like some breakfast?  We can have something ready for you in the library.”  He nodded as if in a dream.

When he was made more presentable he went downstairs to the library.  Ernest had heard his arrival and was already waiting for him.  He made straight for Victor and embraced him.

“Oh dear brother, that you could return to a happier home.  What was less than a week ago filled with careless cheer and noisy life has been reduced to a place of absolute misery.  I know that this grief cannot and should not be broken, but your presence will at least lift the spirits of father somewhat.  He has suddenly aged so.  I fear this is a blow from which he will never recover.  And Elizabeth needs you to speak some sense to her.  She blames herself and I think would throw herself onto the gallows if she could, such is the guilt that torments her.  And of course, now that they have caught the fiend, she is even more inconsolable.”

“They have caught him!?” exclaimed Victor.  “But how is that even possible.  One might as well try catching the wind.  And he could never be held!”

Ernest looked at his brother oddly.  “It is not a man they have caught dear Victor, but our own Justine.  If our hearts were not truly broken before, they most certainly are now.  To have someone as close to our bosoms as Justine Moritz betray us in this cruel and inhuman fashion.  I do not know what poison her mother filled her with after she took her from us, but it has been fatal.  We should have seen it.  Her behaviour was not of someone sane.”

Victor listened to his younger brother’s speech with shock and horror.  “But she didn’t do it!  I know the murderer and I assure you it is not Justine.  They cannot keep her!  They mustn’t!”  His voice rose, quite startling Ernest.

“But who is it you speak of, Victor?  If you know something reveal it now, for Justine is to be tried this very day and as it stands likely to be found guilty!”

“Victor, my dear, dear boy!!”  Their discussion was ended as their father entered the room and went to his eldest son.  Ernest was quite right, the man had aged considerably and shrunk somehow, but endeavoured to be cheerful for his son.

“Father, Victor says he knows the murderer!”

“We all know the murderer, or thought we did.  It seems we did not know her at all.  Our own Justine Moritz whom we so loved and provided for beyond all that was called for, has displayed the most heinous ingratitude and repaid our kindness with this most dastardly and horrific act.  Our family receives blow after blow.”

“But, he says it’s not Justine, but someone else.”

“That is what Elizabeth says also, but there is evidence against her.  Not to mention her irrational behaviour over the last year.  I do hope you are right.  I hate to think I have housed a monster all this time.”  Mr. Frankenstein took his seat as if greatly fatigued.  “And if you are right I hope there is evidence to that effect.  I must say, I would rather the girl be acquitted, than be so deadfully betrayed.”

The men, young to  old, sat in silence until Elizabeth appeared.  She and Victor shared the same sad embrace as the others and repeated the same sentiments.  Elizabeth had aged also, but not in the way of their father.  She had matured in beauty and Victor found himself admiring the magnificent woman she was clearly becoming.

“Oh, Victor.  How can such a thing be?  Our own Justine, to be accused so!  She could no more kill our dear William as I could.  Her sweet innocence is what I have turned to so often when my heart was in need of cheering.  I cannot bear it.  Did they tell you she is to be tried today?  We have to attend as witnesses.  They surely cannot convict!”

“I promise you, Elizabeth she is innocent.  And so cannot possibly be convicted.  How can there be evidence against someone for a crime that he or she did not commit.  She will be returned to us.”  Victor felt a terrible burning as he considered that Justine could be put to death for a crime committed by his abomination.

Elizabeth was much cheered by Victor’s agreement on Justine’s innocence.  Her father and brother had not been so constant in their conviction and were content to let a jury decide on it.

They continued the morning politely in conversation on weather and Victor’s travels and what plans Ernest had.  They managed in this vein until 11:00, the time of Justine’s trial, neared.

Victor attended the trial as he must.  He dared not turn away from it, though he wished to.  His part in this terrible play tortured him into his very marrow.  He was accompanied by Agatha, whom he barely noticed, such was his agitation.

Justine appeared, and was as much an angel as Victor recalled.  Her mourning garb and her immense sadness only increased her appeal.  As far as he was concerned she emanated innocence by her very presence.  Her posture, her clear eyed stare and her confident demeanour spoke of a character incapable of what she had been accused.  He stifled a gasp.  Others in the court were not so discreet, but gasped in unison, shocked that evil could be so disguised.

The case proceeded.  It was as his father had said, there was much evidence against the girl.  The details of the crime were revealed and then witnesses brought forward.  Justine’s behaviour was discussed and the appearance of the locket in her dress.  Worse still, she was remarked as missing in the night even though she had claimed to be in bed and was said to have been seen by a market woman near where the murder had taken place.  It was admitted that upon interrogation by family and authorities the accused had appeared most confused by the matter and did not seem to know what they were telling her when they explained to her how William Frankenstein’s lifeless body had been discovered or when confronted about the necklace, but she was often known to be in a confused state.  Victor grew afraid.

Justine was then brought forward to defend herself.  She assured the court that she was innocent, her eyes never bluer or bigger as she did so.  She had loved the boy as a brother, she explained.  Her own beloved brothers were now all dead, and his importance to her could not be overstated.  It was true that she had not been in her bed when she was supposed to be, but had left it to search for William, as had the rest of the house.  Her illness though, had only allowed her to travel so far.  She had rested in a barn.  Perhaps it was there that the locket had been inserted, for she had slept quite deeply — alas, it seems it had not been far from where the body had been found.  She could give no reason as to why a killer would remove the necklace, only to place it in the pocket of a stranger, somehow found in a barn.  But a killer of a boy was clearly not of normal mind, and doubtless could do anything.

She ended with a speech upon her innocence.  “I assure the courts that I am guiltless in this matter.  The Frankenstein family has been kindness itself towards me, taking me in as a small child and treating me as their own.  There is no one I hold dearer.  To cause them such pain as I know them to be suffering is horror itself to me.  As is the thought that they might think that their sweet generosity towards one so lowly could have been repaid with such monstrous ingratitude and treachery.  I have no explanation as to the supposed evidence against me, other than such devilry that takes an innocent child is surely capable of building suspicions against another innocent.  For what reason, I cannot guess, how can any of us follow the logic of evil itself.  I do not expect the court to rely on my own word. It would be unwise to do so considering the straits I am in, but ask that they listen to the words of those who know me, those who have been with me most of my life and can assure you of the purity of my character and the gentleness of my manner.  I thank you.”  With that Justine lowered her head, the picture of virtue and humility.

Elizabeth was the second to speak on the girl’s behalf.  She spoke of the great love she had for her.  How the family treasured her as their own.  The loss of such a prized member of their household would add more grief to their current burden she said.  It was unimaginable that such a sweet creature could be guilty of something so despicable.  She explained how close she was to all the members of the family, including their precious William.  Such an appeal to the members of the court by a member of the boy’s family however, only made the crime committed appear that much more despicable. Victor could hear the murmur of disgust travel through those in attendance.  There was no mistaking the countenance of the judges either.  That they believed in Elizabeth’s goodness was evident, but they believed this to handicap her own judgement and only served to magnify the terrible crime presented.  Justine’s fate was clear.

The family returned home heartsick.  Not much was eaten at dinner and conversation barely occurred.  Two members of the family despondent that someone so loved and cherished by them  could suddenly turn violently against them, two because they believed steadfastly in the girl’s innocence.

The next morning Victor returned alone to the court.  The ballots were cast, he was told, all black.  Justine was condemned.

Upon this dreadful news, Victor felt the world tilt beneath him with a sickening lurch.  He had never felt so miserable.  That his terrible creation had committed this vile act he was certain.  And now it seemed his creature was to take the life of fair Justine.  He alone knew with absolute certainty that she was innocent for only he knew the facts of the matter and these could not be revealed to anyone.  For him to explain the origins of all his ills would be futile, he would be considered a mad man.  And if it was believed that he created this inhuman being, it did not incriminate the devil or change the evidence against Justine.  It simply uncovered his own miserable crime.  There was nothing to be done but watch the terrible results of his youthful conceit

It was while he dwelt on his own wretchedness that the officer who had given him this first news added to it.  “It is a terrible thing to have to decide on such a matter when death may be its end.  Fortunately the girl has since confessed, so the judges may sleep easier in this case.”

Victor stared at him in shock.  “She has confessed?!”  The world swayed back again as he started to question his own sanity.  Had he not seen the brute dancing around the very spot where his dear brother’s life had been choked out of him?

“Yes, shortly after the verdict.  The judges will be greatly relieved to be so justified.”

 

Installment 22 – Telling Victor

Day 22 and one instalment to be followed by another.  The letter from Victor’s father is based on the one in the book so it was a little easier.

Victor and Henry had just spent a splendid fortnight on a final walking tour of the environs of Ingolstadt in preparation of Victor’s leaving.  Victor was only awaiting communication of the date he was to return home.  He would miss Henry, who had proven to be an invaluable friend, but his health was now returned and he had ensured that Henry was well settled in the college.

On his return to their rooms he found two letters for him, one from Elizabeth and a shorter one from his father.  He eagerly picked up the one from Elizabeth and tossed the other to Henry saying, “Well, Henry, it looks like I am officially leaving.  The date and the arrangements will be in that.”  He returned to the news from Elizabeth, smiling at her descriptions of his family’s activities.  He had not reached the bottom of the first page when his friend reached over and placed his hand on his and pushed the letter from him.

“I can read no more, Victor.  I am sorry.”  He removed Elizabeth’s correspondence and replaced it with his father’s.

“My dear Victor,

“You have doubtlessly waited impatiently for the letter to fix the date of your return to us; and how I wish to simply sit down and write just those few lines.  But that would be a cruel kindness.  What would be your surprise, my son, when you expected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on your return, the contrary?  For you shall find a house of tears and wretchedness.  How, Victor, can I relate our misfortune?  I wish to prepare you for the woful news, but I know it is impossible.

“William is dead! — that sweet child, whose smiles delighted and warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so gay!  Victor, he is murdered!

“At this writing I am in possession of few details, but I shall relate what I can.  William failed to appear for dinner and after a search was made for him in the house and the grounds, he failed to materialize.  The search was broadened and at 9:00 this terrible night the beautiful boy that just hours before was blooming and in health, was discovered far from his home, stretched out on a neglected path, lifeless:  the print of the murder’s finger on his throat.

“We are all of us greatly afflicted but Elizabeth is most particularly stricken with this news, for William had teased her to let him wear a valuable miniature that she possessed of your mother.   The picture is gone from his neck, and was doubtless the temptation which urged the murderer to the deed.  She believes herself responsible for the boy’s loss.

“Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth.  She weeps continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the cause of his death; her words pierce my heart.  Thank God your mother did not live to witness the cruel, miserable death or her youngest!

“Come Victor; enter the house of mourning, but I ask that you do so with kindness and affection for those who love you, and not with hatred for your enemies.

“Your affectionate and afflicted father,

“Alphonse Frankenstein”

Victor collapsed onto a chair in anguish.  Henry knelt beside him, equally moved.

“I can offer no consolation, my friend,” he said then rose. “I will go to order the horses for your return.”

They walked there together.  There was some small mentions made of fiends and monsters and murderers of children.  And of course, the sweetness of William.  But they were mostly silent, the echoing of their steps on the streets the most fitting accompaniment to their grief.  Victor looked about and considered on the range of emotions spent in this place.

When the horses arrived, the two men said good-bye with an embrace and Victor climbed into the cabriolet.  Henry watched him drive away.

Instalment 21- Not Justine!

So Day 21 and instalment 21, though most of 20 was done today.

Justine was held in her room while Mr. Frankenstein could be informed and the authorities called for.

Elizabeth could not believe it.  Justine had been with the family since a child.  Yes, she had been odd since her return from her mother’s.  And her health had suffered it was true.  But the family loved her and she loved them back.  It was not possible.

Mr. Frankenstein started to explain the case as it had been told him.  “The locket was found in her dress and no one can say for sure where she was when…” His voice faltered.

Elizabeth was confused.  “I don’t understand.  Why were they searching her dress?  Were the searching all the staff?”

“According to Gerta, they were simply collecting the dress for laundry and came across the locket while emptying the pockets.”

“But why was Alfred there?  I still don’t understand.”

“Staff was stretched with so many searching the grounds.  As I was saying, they found the locket and then a further examination of her person showed her to be bruised and scratched, as if in an altercation.  And we all know she has been erratic.  She denies the accusation, of course.  And I cannot see it.  This is our sweet Justine!  Your mother’s favourite!”

“I cannot see it either,” agreed Elizabeth.  “May I see her?  If I saw her I would know. I’m sure I would.”

“She has already been removed,” explained her father.  “But I’m sure it can be arranged.”

Arrived

16th day and 16th installment.  Thought I’d get more done on a day off, but had minutes and an agenda to write as well.

 

The creature was not aware when he arrived at the Belrive house that he had reached his destination.  This was not the address he was seeking as he had that of the Geneva House.  But water provides bearings so when he saw the lake in the distance that is where he headed.  And when he passed a small twig shelter he made note of it as the hour was getting late.

The family was quite right about William’s hut.  No one was living in it and the leaves had simply collected there.  In the fall the structure would have been, if not comfortable,  at least habitable, but the winds of winter and spring had removed most of the sticks that made up the roof.  However, believing that it had been used for shelter, William went about making improvements, and then put a blanket in for good measure, along with his piece of bread.  It looked quite a happy, if rustic, little abode upon the creature’s return.  The bread and blanket lead him to believe it must have some occupant so he rejected it for his own use.  He liked it though and studied it further for future reference.  It seemed a most useful design.  It was during this inspection that he heard the two boys approaching.  They had come to investigate whether anyone had made use of it yet and discussed the possibilities of this at such a volume that the creature soon came to understand that it was vacant, and according to the older of the pair doomed to remain so.  Ernest berated William enough about the blanket, and teased him enough about his invisible tenant and simply mistreated him so much on the subject, that the creature felt honourbound to inhabit the poor boy’s twig house, if only to defend the boy’s reputation.  When darkness fell and it seemed unlikely that the boys would be returning for yet another of their many inspections, the creature crept in, ate the bread and made use of the extra blanket for the night.  He awoke early so as to avoid observation, but took the time to collect and leave a gift of spring violets and clover in thanks and made certain to leave the blanket crumpled.

It was a short while later as he was carefully leaving, ducking into some overgrowth after finding himself some eggs, that he heard that all important name.  He hovered as close as he could in order to confirm that he hadn’t misheard, but it was not repeated.  He was fairly certain though, two labourers in discussion, and part of that discussion, Frankenstein.  It seemed he might be using the shelter another night.

William checked on his little house later in the morning.   It was just as he had hoped.  The boy, now entirely justified,  ran quickly back to the house to let everybody know that the bread was gone and about the gift left behind.  He started to plan what next to provide for his guest.

 

Spring

Day 15 and the half way point for NaNoWriMo.  Wish I had twice the words I have.  But it’s coming along anyway.

Spring came in quite ominously with rain and wind and the greyest of days and starless nights.  There were very few days of walking by the lake or strolling the gardens.  There had been talk at the beginning of her stay, that Agatha would lodge in the main house, but upon her arrival it was agreed that she should remain in the cottage to care for her father.  This turned out for the best, for Elizabeth and Agatha each made a point of leaving to visit the other daily, and so had a change of scenery.  The boys ran about the main house, upsetting everyone with their noise, but not as much as when they ran outside and brought back in all manner of mud and detritus.  Ernest was twice his younger brother’s age, yet still played with William, though perhaps a little less in the last year, but as there were no other boys to be had, young or old, neither had much choice in their companion.

When May arrived, and brought with it sun and warmth, everyone escaped the indoors.  Strolls and afternoons of plein air painting could resume and the boys could run at will.

One morning, when Ernest was refusing to play, William went out to inspect what was left of his previous year’s architecture and made an exciting discovery.

“There’s someone living in my fort,” he declared at lunch.  “Someone’s living in my old fort, the one past the broken stone wall.  It lasted all winter and somebody’s living in it.”

“How do you know?” asked Elizabeth.

“He made a bed out of leaves and he put some in the walls so the wind won’t get through.

“Really!  Do you know who it is?  Maybe it’s an ogre or a troll.”

“It’s a man.  Ogres and trolls don’t exist.”  William did not like being treated like a child.  “Maybe it was robbers hiding out.”

“Oh dear, I hope we’re not in danger.”  Elizabeth winked at Agatha.  “Well, do you want to bring him some food, some bread or cheese maybe?  A man needing to sleep outside in one of your forts is probably hungry.”

“Oh yes,  we should do that.  Maybe some cake.  I think he would like cake.”  A beggar was no less exciting to the boy than a robber.  What was important was that his fort had not only survived the winter, but it was deemed sound enough to be lived in.

“There is no one living in your old fort.  And even if there was, he wouldn’t be there still.”  Ernest was very much an older brother.

“There was someone in my fort.  And even if he left we should still leave some cake.  Just in case he comes back or someone else needs to use it.”

“A piece of bread should suffice I think,” interjected his father.  “If a man is hungry he will be just as thankful for a piece of bread as for a piece of cake, and it will not be too rich for his system.”

“Yes father.”  William took some bread from the table and ran out of the room without asking to be excused.  His father watched him depart, shaking his head.

“I wish you wouldn’t encourage him like that Elizabeth.  The wind has obviously blown leaves into one of his little hovels and now he thinks he is a master builder and people live in his homes.  What happens when some rodent carries away his bread?  Is he going to keep bringing my food to his imaginary tenant?”

“I would not worry yourself too much Mr. Frankenstein,” said Agatha.  “He will likely have forgotten about it come dinner time.”

“Not likely Miss DeLacey.  My sons rarely let an idea go.”

The rest of the lunch time conversation revolved around how very bright William was and how remarkable and complex his numerous woodland structures were.  It was agreed by all that the boy had a brilliant future ahead of him.