November 13, 1812

he frost has begun to thicken upon every surface in the early mornings, at times not thawing out until well after breakfast, making the now barren trees shine as the weakening sunlight touches them. The age of the house is showing with each passing day by allowing the cold to penetrate at every thin corner and draughty passageway. Staying warm is far beyond my ability in such conditions, and I have been permanently attached to the fireplace in my bedroom or in the parlor, straying not away if I can help it lest I freeze myself straight to death! I cannot even play my instrument any longer, for my hands cannot bear the movements when they are so cold. I am told the weather will continue to get colder, and Mr. and Mrs. Hegwood tease me kindly about my obvious inability to remain warm. I cannot abide by the cold, and this is a painful sort!

Mrs. Hegwood has begun to decorate the rooms with sprigs of holly and other festive flora in light of the approaching holiday season. While I am not particularly fond of it, the bright colors and lovely fresh smells bring my heart a greatly needed cheer. It calls to my mind fond memories of my childhood, when the same sights and smells brought excitement and anticipation of guests from afar and so much joy and warmth. I am reminded most fondly of my mothers close friend whom she knew from school, Miss Isabella Ashborne, who much to our collective sorrow strayed far from us to Eastbourne after the death of her husband. She was always much like an aunt or an elder sister to me, and I have known her since I was but a babe. I wrote to her, as often as I could whilst back in England, but since I have been in America I am afraid no letter has been sent, and I am most remiss in my duties as a friend. I have resolved to write to her before the week is out, and recall the cherished memories of her visits during the holidays. I find myself remembering things about England that I will no longer be able to enjoy, at least in the same manner, now that I am in America. I will miss Mama and Papa deeply and Kathryn as well. I hope that she has been well, and will encounter no difficulties this winter as her condition every day progresses closer to the happy time.

Mrs. Vincent has invited Mr. and Mrs. Hegwood and myself to a dinner party and ball on their estate to celebrate the holidays, and I am told all the best society will be in attendance that is to be found in Albany. Mrs. Hegwood has expressed a great interest in the “various eligible bachelors” that will supposedly be there as well, even some with titles on the line to be inherited, visiting from home.

Says she; “My dearest Emily, it would be good to divert your attentions to someone who you can rely upon, child.” To this, I could not help but respond, entirely shocked and offended; “Mrs. Hegwood, I would expect more of your good opinion towards the Doctor! You do me great injury as well as to him.” I of course, could say nothing more for I did in truth have no grounds to claim him attached to me, as much as I wanted to state it as fact. She said no more of the matter, but patted me on the cheek and gracefully moved to another subject. Her words, though, remained with me for quite some time, and I began to think perhaps she was correct, and to lay away my affection for the Doctor unmarred by disappointment and heartbreak in their happy memory and move away from pinning my hopes there.

Without our knowledge, Mr. Vincent had observed the entire exchange from just beyond the doorway of the parlor. If Mr. Hegwood had not happened upon him and let out a startled exclamation, who is to say how much more he would have heard? By now I fear he already knows more than I wished him to. The Doctor was to remain safe from Mr. Vincent, locked away in my heart, but now I am afraid he cannot be any longer. Mr. Vincent is a terribly perceptive and sharp man, and will find it all out in time.

After his abrupt entry into our company in the parlor, he bowed graciously to Mrs. Vincent, and greeted her and humbled himself in a most falsely sanguine manner, causing my blood to boil. As he addressed me I returned them with the shortest answers deemed polite and sufficient, before sitting at the furthest corner of the room from him, forsaking my place by the fire, and picked up the nearest book. He was not to be dissuaded, however, and insisted upon sitting beside me and engaging me in conversation. Mrs. Hegwood suddenly remembered something that needed her direct attention, and made haste from the parlor, dragging the hesitant and confused Mr. Hegwood behind her. Mr. Hegwood turned to look at me over his shoulder as he was pulled from the room, and my eyes begged him to stay, but Mrs. Hegwood would allow no such thing, and forcefully bade him come away with tugs, looks, and threats.

Mr. Vincent watched them go, pausing in his barrage of dull questions and comments to hear the footsteps fade away from earshot, before wiping the gentle and amiable expression clear off of his face and donning his natural state, before turning back to me with a haughty sneer. “So, Miss Waterman, who is this Doctor,” said he as he moved closer to me, removing the book from my hands none too gently and tossing it onto the chair which just moments ago my only protector had occupied. I chose not to answer him and smiled, moving to the furthest end of the couch in which we resided, commenting on the sudden change in the cold weather. Mr. Vincent hushed me violently midway through my sentence, and startled, I chanced a look into his face, and I found it most ugly; flushed with anger and pride. “No, Miss Waterman I shall NOT be moved from this topic. You will tell me who this man is, and how he comes to dare have the claim over you which I so deservedly possess, for you are mine and no other man’s,” Said he. My heart trembled something wild within my breast and my hands shook, but I stayed my course. “Mr. Vincent,” said I, “It is no part of your business what I conduct in my personal affairs or with whom I conduct them. You shall not get the answer you desire from me, and this interview has concluded.” With that, I removed myself from the couch and from the room as quickly as I could, and left him there, spluttering in his shock and rage, to barricade myself in my bedroom.

It has been two days since, and I have heard nothing from him, and am gentling a hope into existence that he has gone from me for good, and I have succeeded at last. Mrs. Vincent must be entirely unaware of the exchange, for she has continued to amuse Mrs. Hegwood, and the invitation has not been revoked. Mr. Hegwood since that day, has begun to take a closer interest in my safety, and I believe he has made an acute observation of Mr. Vincent’s effect on me, and has taken pains to remain in my presence as often as he can. If I could thank him without him knowing of Mr. Vincent’s previous conduct, I would wash over him the kindest expressions of gratitude I know. Instead, I provide for him as much amusement and entertainment as I can, and he seems contended enough with that. He reminds me very much of my dear Papa, and I shall endeavor to be the best to him as his own natural daughter could be.

There is still no letter yet from the Doctor, but Mr. Hegwood assures me that he should be safe in England soon enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment