Journeying

Day 12 and a few more words, though I am going to have to try to go to bed a decent hour tonight.

An address provides no direction to a stranger unfamiliar with a land.  The creature knew enough that he would have to leave one country for another, that he was now in Germany and that the Geneva in the address he owned was in Switzerland, but he did not know where one lay in relation to the other, nor how to differentiate them.  There were certainly no instructions in the journals he carried, their geography being strictly of the biological.  And sign posts, when they did exist, were only for the most local points of interest.  Nothing said Germany ends here or ends just over there; Switzerland coming.  He meandered a great many weeks sometimes going this way and sometimes that, but managed somehow to go the right way more than wrong.  The journey was not a pleasant one, it was cold and he still had only his original costume, augmented by a found cloak.  His spirit was even less pleasant and he spent many a night howling at his misfortunate lot.  This distemper could not be maintained however, and somewhere in the midst of his quest, surrounded by countryside sometimes pretty, sometimes stark, but always majestic, his dark mood lightened and the snow became less bothersome and more magical, the harshness of the wind merely an observation, not a complaint.  He began to appreciate the body that had been bestowed him, grotesque as it was, for it endured all manner of hardship and required little to sustain it.

When  he grew tired of not knowing where he was he ventured closer to civilization.  He encountered a group of children whom he chased away with a roar, but no mob came to find and torment him.  He ventured even closer still.  A blind, old man had been kind to him in the past.  He thought to find another person with the same sightless affliction and see if they could assist in some way.  Within a few days of deciding on this course he came across a large woman sitting on a stool in the front of a disheveled cottage nimbly peeling potatoes, her face held up to the warming sun while she worked.  As he could see no one else present to abuse him he approached her and asked where he was.  She replied with the name of the village and laughed when he asked if this was in Germany.

“You are in Bavaria.”

She laughed even louder when he explained he wanted Switzerland and then scolded him for attempting such a trip with winter approaching.  But sightless or not she seemed know the direction he should be travelling.  She pointed in the general direction of the border with no indication of its distance and then offered some bread for the journey, laughing yet again at his folly.  He gratefully accepted.

He came across another group of children whom he chased away with his roar.  They dropped the sticks they were collecting and ran, but the joviality of his earlier provider seemed to infect her entire hamlet, for their screams turned into laughter and then they stopped in conference in front of him.  With no chase to continue, he stopped also and observed them as, in unison, they all looked over to him and charged.  He ran, laughing a deep baritone laugh, impressed with the bravery held in such small packaging.  When he went beyond what they obviously thought their territory, the pack slowed and returned to the job of collecting kindling.  He gave a cordial wave and walked on, diverting his route only slightly, listening to their fading conversations and laughing to himself.  The last of his darkness lifted and as evening approached he found himself humming one of Mr. DeLacey’s old tunes.  He was flat, but no matter.

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Agatha Arrives

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.”

My dearest, dearest Elizabeth

second installment of Elizabeth Lavenza

So here I am on day two of National Novel Writing Month and about to make my second installment, a second letter.  And as far as I know, the final letter in the work, but things change I know.  I have already gone back and made minor changes to the first and would do more, but this is about getting it all done by the end of the month and I can take care of all that later.

So another step into the beyond. . .

My dearest, dearest Elizabeth,

If I may be so bold as to address you as such.  My saviour, my benefactress, my sweetest friend, modesty bids that I should refuse your generous offer, but pride left me years past, and what is such modesty but pride disguised.  I accept with a gratitude that no words can adequately express.

Before I go on further however, there is something I need to address.  I wish to make plain my love and regard for my sister-in-law.  I fear that my previous communication may have painted her in a poor light and that you, whose opinion I hold so highly may think ill of her.   She who has done so much for my family’s welfare and happiness and for my brother’s most especially.  Safie is a woman of great beauty in any land and even greater wealth.  A happy and comfortable future was assured her.  And yet, acting against both blood and breeding, she left behind a life of luxury and certainty to travel to a country whose customs, tradition and language were all strange to her.  With little experience beyond her family’s most confining walls she managed to glean our family’s whereabouts (this with only two individuals being aware of where we resided and under what name).  Then upon obtaining this information she set off, at great risk to her health and person, on a dangerous journey to find and join a family reduced to wretchedness.  All this to keep a years old promise made by herself and by an overly cunning father.

I recognize that in our months together many aspects of our life caused her pain, from the food she found so bland in flavour and colour, to the cold and damp of our climate, to never hearing her own tongue spoken.  And our cottage and even her and my brother’s current apartments would be humbler even than any of the quarters of her once numerous servants.  Yet, for all that she left behind, she maintained the brightest of demeanours and looked not only on my brother with pride and love, but on my father and myself also.  Is it not reasonable that after all that she endured, and the deprivations that she must surely feel daily, that she would declare herself done? That she would decide that a wretched and horrific beast such as we encountered that day was too much for her?  No, she has my brother to take care of and I hope, children to soon think of.  I do not hold her position on the matter against her, and it is only proper that Felix ally himself with her.  She is his wife and all she has done she has done for him.

Having removed that burden from myself, onto more pragmatic subjects.  Your offer to pay the passage for my father and myself is most generous, but unnecessary.  We are not entirely without means and will find our way without great hardship.  And after all you are doing for us, bearing this comparatively small cost is a joy.

A small cottage, regardless of its state, would be lovely for my father, but to then provide a room for myself seems most excessive.  I am sure I can stay with my father, unless of course you require me in the house.  I repeat my offer of before.  I am happy to work and become most capable.  I quite surprise myself at just how useful these last few years have made me.

Oh, dearest Elizabeth, I am quite beside myself with the excitement of this new adventure.  I look forward to meeting Masters William and Ernest.  And your father, Mr. Frankenstein.  And will your cousin Victor be returned?

But what I am in greatest anticipation of, is meeting you my dearest Elizabeth.  You who have become sister to me.  I hope to prove myself worthy of your love and generosity.

May the good Lord bless and keep you and yours dear sister.  I remain your most devoted, humblest and affectionate of servants,

Agatha DeLacey

Dear Miss Lavenza

elizabethlavenzablog-dear miss lavenza

I am beginning this tale with two letters.  Unlike Mary Shelley’s work, this will not be an epistolary novel, however it seemed like a good way to set the story up.

And so, to start. . .

Dear Miss Lavenza,

I am sorry for the great length of time since my last communication, but as you will have noted, our residence has changed, the second change in as many months, and I fear, not a happy one.

This change was brought about by the most peculiar of circumstances.  We (my brother and his betrothed and myself) walked into our home one evening to find what we believed to be my father under attack.  An assumption that would later prove to be quite false.   My father was in the midst of giving his word to a desperate stranger that he would provide him with assistance and we, in ignorance and fear, drove that stranger from him and from our abode.  If you had seen the creature, you would have understood the great violence of our reaction.  You would understand with what horror we beheld him and how fearful we were for our father.  He was immense, monstrous in proportion, being of close to eight feet, his face was of a terrible, inhuman hue and his costume mere rags.  I fainted away upon seeing him and my brother tells me that he actually struck the miserable creature with a stick.  It was Felix who drove him from the cottage.

But we who have known the misfortunes and deprivations that we have known, should also know grace.  We should know to hesitate before judgement and should have paused to collect what facts there were before acting so rashly.  By the time my father had calmed us and assured us that the man meant him no harm, but was most unfortunate and ill-used and requiring of our assistance it was too late.  The poor creature had disappeared we knew not where.  And although my brother and I lost our fear after my father’s exhortation, Safie remained unconvinced by his explanations and refused to stay a moment longer in the cottage.  We were forced to change lodgings.   This did in fact bring about an improvement in habitation, however the state of our family was not improved at all, in fact our misery was greater than I have known it.  My father felt our removal a terrible betrayal to one in need and an unforgiveable breaking of his word.  And after much quarreling with my brother and his wife he declared it his intention to quit our home and not return until he had aided his new acquaintance.  What was I to do, but follow my father.  He is old and he cannot see and I could not let him search for an unnamed stranger without my assistance.  We have returned to the vicinity of our old cottage and made inquiries, but noone seems to have seen such a man, as remarkable in appearance as he is.

And now I get to the most difficult of subjects.  It is because of my father and my concern for his well-being that I write the particular letter that you now hold.  I know it to be most indelicate, but I require a way of supporting him and myself.  I hold no illusions as to the difficulty of my task.  I have nothing to recommend me, no nearby family, no real acquaintances and a borrowed name.  But I assure you I am acquainted with all manner of labour and can put my hand to anything.  I entreat you my dear Miss Lavenza, is there a situation within your household?  Could you find room for myself and my father?  There is nothing I would consider beneath me, I promise.  It was possible to live in some mean comfort when there was my brother present, but he is no longer here to assist us and I fear for my father’s health.  He is not so foolish to believe that we can find his stranger at this stage, but he will not return to my brother’s house and I cannot allow him to live on his own, blind as he is.

I apologize for the forwardness of my commission.  I lay no specific claim upon your affection.  I recognize your friendship was won through pretense, that my name is only a recent invention of my father’s to aid in our safety and that I am not the friend that you had hoped to find when you first contacted us.  A happy accident for which I am eternally grateful, but one which must bring you some sadness.  I ask you all the same, for I believe us to be friends of a sort, each become intimately acquainted to the other.

If you are unable to help, I will not take it amiss, and will continue to call you friend.

I hope you are well and that your cousin is also.  I believe you thought him improved according to your last letter.

May the good Lord bless and keep you and your family.

Your humblest and most affectionate of servants,

Agatha DeLacey

Hello writers and readers

Well, I have done it.  I have decided and declared I am writing a novel in a month.  I thought about it last year, but alas, chickened out.  This year though, I have a plan.  Over the next thirty days I will tell the tale of Elizabeth Lavenza, adopted sister and betrothed of Victor Frankenstein.

This is a bit of a cheat, I know.  A good deal of the plot has already been mapped out for me and the main characters are already present.  And in some ways, I look at this as an exercise.  However, this is most definitely a novel.  We have only had one person’s version of the events, that of a mad man, and that version is second-hand, the tale transcribed by R. Walton to his sister after hearing it from Victor.  I have always felt there was more to be known, more to be told.

And so, I present to you what I presently call “The Tale of Elizabeth Lavenza”.