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

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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”.