Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.
13 Norwich Street, Yorke, Cumbria
27 September 1017
I have just time to record the events of the day over a glass of the best, and then I must sleep. It has a long and trying day.
It began with a brief stop at L’École du Sorciers to see Amelia, we having spent the last portion of the night hovering over a field outside of Toulouse—for Amelia had warned me not to approach the school under cover of darkness, lest we meet with some dire but undisclosed fate. It was a joy-filled but difficult meeting, as I could take but a moment, and Amelia has been wanting to consult with me for many, many months. I assured her I would return for at least a few days—”A week!” she cried, “No, a month!”
Well, we shall see.
I may say that my navigation device performed flawlessly, though I must come up with a better name for it than “the ball on the string”. It led us unerringly to Toulouse, and then to the school, where I alighted on the roof with no difficulty whatsoever.
Which reminds me, if Mother insists on remaining here in Norwich Street, I must think on providing a better mooring place for the Amelie. At present she is settled uneasily in the garden, which is hardly large enough for the purpose.
After seeing Amelia we continued on to Yorke, arriving in the early evening—much more quickly than any previous packet could achieve—and I have spent the remaining time sitting with Mother and hearing repeating refrains on just three themes:
Oh, she is so glad to have me home! (Pathetic gratitude, with tears and much clutching of my hands.)
Oh, she misses my father so much! (Many more wholly unwarranted tears, with much clutching of her hands to her bosom.)
Oh, I must leave that awful place and come back to Yorke to live. (Shrill persistence, plus watery yet piercing glances.)
I responded with platitudes, I am afraid, humoring her; and I do hope that I did not communicate to her my ever increasing dismay and irritation. I did not dare broach the topic of a visit “to that awful place”.
She has been much on her own since Father’s passing, I am afraid, refusing to go out or be at home to callers; for she is in mourning, and in this she is woefully old-fashioned. Her first words to me—after greeting me warmly and protesting her great misery—were for me to take off my coat so that she could sew a black crêpe band around the arm. “For you cannot go out like that, Armand! There would be talk!”
I find her reluctance to seek company in her misery to be ill-advised in the extreme—though perhaps “ill-advised” is the wrong word, for I doubt that any of those she has been willing to see has advised such a course.
I know she has seen John Netherington-Coates on occasion, “but only for matters of business,” she assured me today, and of course she has seen Aunt Margaret and Uncle George. I will call upon all three of them tomorrow, and I expect to find them as impatient with her vapors as I fear I am at the moment.
It took no small degree of effort, but I believe I have persuaded her that we should dine in Madrigal Place as soon as may be arranged. “For,” I said, “no one can fault you for having recourse to your own sister and her husband at a time such as this.”
“Do you really think so?” she said.
“I do. You are much overthrown, Mama, and who can blame you? But your loved ones are hurting as well, and deserve your attention.”
I carefully avoiding stating the nature of their hurt.
So I shall call upon them tomorrow, and arrange things; and with luck I shall have a tot of commiseration with Jack.
Fortunately there are no legal matters to deal with. I shall wait upon Wackspallen as soon as may be, just to be sure—but I can see that her trustees have ensured that she is warm, and well-fed, and that the house is sufficiently staffed and maintained.
Alas, it is plain that that is not enough for her well-being, so she must make up her mind. She must rejoin society, or she must resolve to come and live in that “awful place” with Amelie and I. No other situation bears thinking upon.
Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash