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The Brinbridge Atonement is set in the post Victorian era where the decline of the industrial revolution is taking place; and the transition into post fascism, communism, and the beginning of socialist society was captivating the new world. A timeless quality narrative; The Brinbridge Atonement is about the scientific experimentation of physicists such as those occurring in the laboratory of Dr. Blaston Lavine at the Shuttersburg Academy in the 18th century, which were done in secrecy. Many of their practices teetered on the verge of imagination, often being dismissed as mere science fiction. In this story, however, they are factors of Professor Jeremi’s legacy and Winnard’s life as he transitions into manhood and the Master of his house. There is the upsurge of a collectivist elite, wherein lies a story of scientific experimentation that explores tabu derivations, connotative familial espionage, and courtship reeling the borders of treason. Love, passion, and trust are the mortar that bridge this atonement in an account of a human trial.


The Brinbridge Atonement


Prologue

Chapter 1- Conversation of Beginnings

Chapter 2- Unbridled Indecision

Chapter 3- Inked Cloth

Chapter 3 Part II- An Invitation

Chapter 4- A Fetal Experiment

Chapter 5- Father of Damsels

Chapter 6- Chromatic Compass

Chapter 7- Homebound

Chapter 8- A Second Compass

Chapter 9- The Crafty Proposal

Chapter 10- Family Synthesis

Chapter 11- Unveiling the Pavilion




Prologue


"Your brother is gone, he will not be returning. Leonard, was in an accident on his voyage. He now lies beneath the ocean in the boughs of his ship. That is his new bed now. The estate is yours. The Brinbridge Manor belongs to you and your bride, Jeremi. She is with child I assume?"

His father spoke to him in a cold tone, stiff and devoid of emotion. He never was in the best favors of his father. He was the younger of two sons. Their mother had died when they were in their 8th and 16th years. This was the story that father had told them. Secretly, they knew that their mother had run away, and that father could not bear the truth. She had found love in another place, and cried every day for four seasons, apologizing endlessly, but without verbalizing an explanation before her disappearance. Claiming that she had been overcome with an illness of dementia of some form, the boys worried after their mother until one day they did not see her anymore. The attendants at the time and Jeremi's father stood before the master chambers guarding the door and refused to let the boys see their mother's body one last time. "She went in her sleep," they told him.

Within a days’ time there was a burial. Beyond the orchard, north of the manor is where their mother was buried. There was a tomb stone placed there in her memory. Leonard and Jeremi, however, were sure that there was no body in the ground beneath. They never spoke of her thereafter. Leonard became an admiral when he left the manor. He was to return to take over when father could no longer reign as the lord at the manor. He was the son of whom father was most proud. Jeremi studied and was intelligent in the sciences. He was an evolutionist theorist and studied at two prestigious universities among peers. His father did not take pride in Jeremi’s title or his studies; and his father died before long. A cold winter season took with it his father’s last breath. He was in his twenty seventh year. Delcia, his wife whom he had met at the university was in her twenty-third year. She was with child as his father had acknowledged before passing and leaving the estate to Jeremi.

It was in her twenty-fourth year that she bore him their first child. It was a boy, and they named him Winnard. Together Jeremi and Delcia would raise him to become holder and heir of the estate and the Brinbridge legacy. They had plans to make it impressing upon the lips and minds of all who encountered them. They had love and wanted for nothing after all, it seemed. In Winnard’s second year, however, Delcia became stricken with what appeared to be grief. Jeremi feared for the worst. He feared that Delcia had somehow, like his mother, fallen for another. He worked hard at his sciences, but he also managed to make time for Delcia and Winnard. She seemed pleased with their son and when he touched her, she did not flinch. When they made love, it was nothing short of magnificent, and she still told him that she loved him. When he asked, “why tears?”, however, she closed her mouth and would say nothing more for hours and sometimes days. She'd roam the manor and the orchard holding onto Winnard’s hand as he'd learned to walk; a blank, sad and distant look on her clear beautiful face.

"Levine, I just can't figure it out. I have tried to find out the solution, but she will not let me in in the slightest." Jeremi spoke freely to a confidante whom he'd acquired while conducting research studies at the Shuttersburgh Academy on the southern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

"Does she know of your studies, is she reacting to your practice? Perhaps the study of DNA coding offends Delcia. In school, she liked the hard sciences and studies in the biology of nature and what is already here. She may not agree with the research that might create and add to what nature has designed already." Levine suggested.

"Somehow, I had not considered this. I will try again tonight. I will bring up my studies to her and see her reaction. I will learn what ails her," Jeremi asserted.

He was inspired at the idea of a new-found hope that might reconnect him with his wife. That night after they had left the dining hall they met in the sitting room of their bedroom chambers before climbing into bed.

Jeremi added oil to the lamp that lit the room and cast a warm glow upon Delcia's face. Her hair was dark as mid-night and was pulled back tightly into a spherical heap with one single braid transposed across the crown of her head. Jeremi could not see where it began, nor where the braid ended. He was taken by her dark features; always had been. Her eyes were like onyx, but spirited, her personality was dark, but when she was happy she had a way of emanating the spirit throughout the manor; from those working the grounds to the culinary spaces, and especially to visitors and keepers of the precipices. Her words were few, but when she spoke, he loved to listen for requests because she never asked him for anything. She was a puzzle, but to see her ailing was a deep dark storm, impenetrable; and it shook him at the core.

"What aileth thee Delcia? You have but to ask and I would pour a river upon the flames that rise in opposition to your wishes. There are no doors that are closed to you. My head is in your lap as my mind searchingly aims to find a glimmer that reflects your deepest desires, so that I might make them come in to reality." Jeremi read this from a small ream of paper. He had written this for her earlier in the week. Determined to get to the bottom of her woes encouraged him to reveal it to her on this night.

Delcia was quiet, and a single tear escaped from her duct. Winnard was asleep and the chambermaid slept close to him in case there was need for her. Jeremi saw to these provisions. The focus was strictly upon her on this night.

"What is it that you wish for more than anything?" He asked his wife in his most sincere voice. He sat and was also lit by the lamps light. His hair, dark and curly, although not as dark as his wife's. It was more like the color of sand by the light of the sun. She admired his ability to stand strong and tall, squared at the shoulders and with his head held high with so much pride. In the face of his father, when his father disagreed with his chosen studies, he stuck with his intentions and was successful in her eyes and in the eyes of many who lived on the lands of the south isles therein. His father knew this about him as well. He could also maintain his pride while placing himself in a lowly position to learn Delcia's wishes. So as not to keep him waiting any longer, she revealed to him that for the past four seasons’ they made love countless times and she had yet to bare him another child. He was relieved and bewildered at the same time.

"Are you not pleased with Winnard? He is still early in his life, strong and healthy." "No, he pleases me fine, but I wish for a daughter." Delcia had finally given a request, and Jeremi set off to fulfill her.

For another three seasons’: the autumn, the cold season and, the spring they made love to no avail. Delcia was distant less frequently and he saw that she was hopeful. In that fourth season, she became pregnant. They were happy for a time. When she gave birth again to a son, Dafton, she was esteemed for Jeremi, but still she longed for a daughter; someone in whom she might one day be able to see a reflection of herself.

Chapter 1-Conversation of Beginnings

Dinner was an important custom in the Manor of the Brinbridge Family. Fraisdale rung the dinner bell at precisely 5:30pm or as soon as dusk began to settled in. It was an affair that lasted until the sun went down completely. Father sat at the head of the table and Mother sat to his left. Winnard-19 sat to Fathers right and Dafton-17 next to his elder brother. Auntie sat next to mother. The sisters were Kaitlyn-19, Magdelene-19, Helen-18, Gilda-17, Hyde-16, Estelle-16, Cindelle-15, Phrancis-13, Jollie-10, and the youngest Ladine-7.

"How long have I been here Father?" Ladine asked shortly after the meal had been served and all was quiet at the table except for the clanking sound of silverware touching china.

"You have been here all of your life. If that is what you mean to ask my dear." Father replied cheerfully. He made sure to catch eyes with Ladine and curve his lips up into a smile. We all liked to see Father smile. When he was happy it meant that Mother was happy and we all could partake in the light mood of the atmosphere.

"I just remembered that I came here Father." Ladine's voice was very childlike. She tried to eat her rice with her fingers and she swung her legs gingerly beneath the table.

"Mind your table manners Ladine. Do you need a lesson in how to sit at the table? Take your fork into your hand." Mother corrected her sharply, and added a demonstration. She then smiled when Ladine heeded correction with great immediacy.

"You should look at your older sisters.” She continued. “They all know to sit properly, and then to ask such questions."

"Forgive me Mother I have given her proper lessons, but her memory to keep to them, fails her." Helen said folding her napkin on her lap so that Ladine could see the manner clearly.

"I've just learned that lesson." Ladine picked up her napkin from the side of her plate and folded it in likeness after Helen. Then she picked up her utensils to shovel a spoonful of artichoke hearts into her mouth.

Estelle

I observe the family to which I belong and am inclined to believe that there is more to this family than just a mere legacy of generations. I have memories of other places where I have dwelled, but this manor is the only place that I can say has ever truly been my home. At times my memory fails me and the dreams that haunt me at night can be torture. They are nightmares. In them I am often searching for my family. I look for my mother and father but they are never where I can find them, and I don't have siblings in these dreams. I was willing to ignore the nightmares until one stuck out and became strikingly real.

One day Cindelle left the manor and never returned home. Gilda and Hyde had gone out that day as well, however, they returned from collecting quail eggs and gathering foraged goods from the forests surrounding the manor. When she did not return with my sisters I inquired after her. "Where is Cindelle? She shant be late to dinner. No one ever is." And they looked at each other and replied in unison,

"Cindy was not with us."

"She declined the invitation." Helen concluded.

I had to object. For I had seen with my own eyes that they all left the manor together.

"This is unreasonable. She has not returned with you, I shall go out and find her."

"Suit yourself and return before supper. I will inform Fraisdale of your whereabouts."

“Shall we let her go alone?" Gilda asked curiously.

Helen looked to and fro, between her two younger sisters briefly and nodded. "Yes indeed, she is capable." She hunched her shoulders and proceeded into the manor and began to ascend the broad stair case where Fraisdale met her to take her outer coverings into a place in the manor for petticoats. Just as quickly as Fraisdale had taken their attire, Estelle gathered her hooded covering and immediately went out to search for Cindy. She took with her a lantern on the way out of the manor, several stayed lit by the front doors for both light and warmth of the corridor.

Walking out onto the porch of the manor to descend the stone stairs Estelle looked westward toward Danneker Bridge. She paused briefly to feel the winds. The chill was just cool against her cheeks and blew her curls slightly from her shoulders. Deciding that she was dressed appropriately she turned and was on her way to where she thought Cindy might have stopped for quiet aloneness, or just to look at the waters for a flint of amusement as she sometimes did in the library when surveying the century old oil painting of the Danneker Bridge and its ceaselessly flowing waters.

When Estelle arrived to the bridge, however, there was no sign of Cindy staring off distantly over the rail of the bridge made of silverish shiny granite stones and stones that were white like the distant clouds. A slight fog began to cover the ground and settle in low and thick so that as she approached the bridge drawing in closer she could no longer see the ground beneath her feet. She tried to look off distantly down the bridge to the main road where it met the entrance of the manor grounds. She saw nothing there either. Not a soul. Turning on her heals she decided to walk the line of evergreens and redwoods that lined the outskirts of the orchard. There was no firm road there, but there was a path. Sometimes nests would fall there and allow for easy access to quail eggs or fancy feathers with which strong quills could be forged. Just as Estelle turned however, she slipped and fell in something warm and thick. Her lantern crashed down to the ground beside her. Shards of glass tumbled in symphony in the space around, resounding like a clinking instrument. Her surprise kept her seated there in that space motionless for a few short moments, before she decided to bring her hand up before her eyes to see the damage.

Deep crimson covered her hand completely like a glove. She screamed and the quiet around her became a fluttering cacophony of crows and other creatures capable of flocking into the air cawing and flapping. Tears filled up in her, she could feel the heat in her cheeks rise. Water spilled from her eyes and she looked around unable to focus on a single spot in particular for long moments. No one came to her though. Not even after a while no one came to see what had befallen Estelle.

When she recovered herself, she imagined the sensation in her legs returning. She mustered up the strength to grip tightly to the guarding wall of the bridge. The sound of moving waters helped her compose herself. She could hear it flowing and trickling over slick boulders and down small water falls. These images she had seen over and over again standing upon this bridge at better times, when the fog was not as thick nor the time boding such an imminent moment. As she stood there now, with her finger holding tight so as not to fall again, she decided to hurry home quickly because night was falling.

Meanwhile, at the manor Father was hysterical and Mother was in tears. Fraisdale and Lolita, the manor’s head attendant, tried to keep the sisters calm along with Winnard.

"No one is to miss dinner hour! This is the only time that I demand of everyone." Father said as he sat at the head of the table yelling in a voice that was like thunder.

"Who has seen her last?" Mother asked using a handkerchief to dap tears streaming down her cheeks.

Helen looked at Gilda as if to make sure that she knew to say nothing. Gilda, unsure of what the consequences might be and taking into account how upset everyone was, she decided that it was best to remain silent. So, when mother and father asked questions, she said nothing. No one said anything. Helen least of all because she realized that she had forgotten to inform Fraisdale as promised.

Dinner ware full of hot food was turning into cold plates. Everyone sat around the table clenching napkins, but no one dared to touch the food. The tension was thick and the feel for what it was like to sit sustained in silence while surrounded by its noise became the moment.

"Sir Jeremi, I have word." Fraisdale opened the door to the dining hall and announced. "It's a bit horrid. I do not wish to show you openly sir, please come."

Father pushed himself back away from the table and placed his napkin down onto his plate. He took one hard stare at everyone seated around the table and then he left the dining hall.

He saw her as soon as he walked through the double doors that lead to the main hall where the stair case lead to the upstairs wings. She stood there drenched in what could only be blood. Her curls dripping the deep color like water after being soaked in a rain shower.

"Estelle! What has happened? Where did this happened?" Father roared as he ran his hands back through his hair in frustration. He paced back and forth twice before pausing in front of Estelle, gathering his bearings so that he could look at her.

"Father." Estelle let out in a voice that sounded like a whimper. "Only went out the find..."

"You are late for dinner. Everyone knows that you need to be at the table for dinner! That is the only rule Estelle!"

"But Father, you must hear me out about this."

"I must do no such thing!" Father turned to look up at Fraisdale and then to Lolita. He made a pointed gesture with his hand. "Take care of this! Clean her up. I want her clean and at the dinner table in five minutes!"

"Yes sir!"

Lolita replied and scurried off to take Estelle to the bath on the lower floor that was generally used by the cooking staff to wash before kitchen duties. There was a large open bath with a contraption that allowed the water to pour from a spout. Lolita began to peel off Estelle’s garments immediately and douse her with water and soap. Estelle was in tears and disbelief. But she knew that she had to be prepared for dinner so she did not protest.

Within moments the house staff had had her prepared for dinner. She was an hour past the time. No one had ever been late that she could recall. When she sat down she expected questions, admonishment, or even for everyone to discuss where she had been or Cindy's disappearance, but none of the above had occurred. When she sat down at the table, dinner commenced as usual. Father was no longer enraged. Mother and Auntie conducted themselves as though nothing was different from any other night.

Cindelle

I am away now, in a house. It is not as big as the manor where I live. I was told that I am to stay here until Mother sends for me. This morning I bled and Auntie found my soiled dresses in the ashes of the fire that is kept kindled in the lower levels of the manor. A maidservant must have brought the garments to her.

"You will be leaving the manor this morning. Do not ask me questions and this needs to be done quietly so pack the things that you would as though you were going to visit Anoona in Italy."

"But Auntie the ship that would voyage us to Anoona would take weeks of travel. I'd have to pack two trunks, Auntie!" Cindy replied adamantly.

"Then you best get started preparing. You will no longer be here at Brinbridge Manor. We have some matters to settle concerning you. I believe that you would have the details all settled, however, I will not inquire further with you." Auntie was in Cindy’s chambers and turned on her heals to leave as she said this, so that Cindy only saw the back of Auntie’s head as she pondered what had just occurred.

She leapt quickly to her feet. Leaving the vanity where she had been seated and tried to follow Auntie, but when she opened the door that led into the halls from her chambers there was no sign of her. There was not even a shadow. Cindy decided that the next best thing for her to do was to find Lolita. She needed assistance in order to pack. She also needed some answers.

"I am going away. Do you know where to find Lolita?" She asked the kitchen staff who pointed her in the direction.

Cindelle had found Lolita in the cellar just beyond the pantry where many of the cooking staff often gathered. She was collecting garments from clips strung on a line from wall to wall, which hung above her head. Lolita sensed the ill-fated occasion and immediately was defensive in her fright.

"Cindelle, I don't talk about this here." Her Romanian accent was thick and made it difficult for her to whisper at times.

"Well where Lolita? I am being sent away and I do not know why. Have you heard anything from Father, or Mother?"

"Nothing, Cindy." Lolita turned to look at Cindy and placed several items in the basket that lay at her feet. She picked the basket up so that it sat at her waist and rested on one of her hips. Balancing the basket just so, Lolita turned to Cindy and pointed a finger at her. "Your weight you gain." She said rolling the r in “your” very heavily. I speak to no one about this. Not you, or anyone Cindy. I put oil in your lamp and I lay your linens here." Lolita made a gesture with her free hand toward a shelf that was somehow anchored to the wall of the cellar. Linens neatly folded. Stacks upon stacks of white and gray linens.

Realizing that she was getting nowhere with Lolita she rescinded her inquiry and commanded Lolita. "Pack my things I am leaving today to see Anoona!"

"But it is third season only Madame. You don't go there until 2 seasons."

"Plans have changed Lolita. My things please? I will meet you at the main hall of the manor in an hours’ time." Cindy did not stay to see Lolita's reaction nor to hear her response. She returned to the second level of the manor and went to her chambers to consult her journal and to add to it.

Journal Entry

It appears that we have been found out. I don't know if Auntie knows about Winnard, but she knows something about me and Lolita has made mention of my accumulation of weight. I too had noticed it and feared that Estelle and Helen had also. In the library, not two weeks prior to this date Helen had Estelle examined some of my features. I couldn't be sure then as to what they were making reference, but it is clear now. Someone here knows that we are with child. I had no idea hitherto as to what my plans might be. For I am in my 15th year and am carrying the heir to the Brinbridge family within my womb. It is to my dismay that I am founded out in this way. I do not know where the morrow might take me nor later this day. I must be ready to leave soon. Perhaps a letter to my love in the meantime.

Cindy wrote a letter to Winnard and hid it in the room where they last met beneath the sill of the window where the tapestries protected the room from chill. At the place where they had often met over the past seasons where feelings of both warmth and the bitter cold were incited in her and left impressions upon her being that through time would never wear away. The story of their relationship developed quickly at first. As the seasons changed their secret grew and became more and more difficult to keep. Somehow, they managed to make it worthwhile, but the journey would be one for which they would have to strive.

Chapter 2- Winnard- Unbridled Indecision

He was in his 17th year when his father had established the first fundamental building block of their relationship. One evening at dinner, the season was the 4th season, and the warmth of the sun touched the grounds all around the manor. Fraisdale rung the dinner bell at precisely 6 in the evening.

The family lined up in the dining hall. All of the sisters with their shinny tresses went to their seats as if it were a dance and were seated. Winnard and Dafton sat next to their father on the right side of the long table made of heavy cherry maple. Winnard had keen senses and the sweet scent of the wooden table in the dining room with its high-backed chairs always hung thick in the air and in his nostrils, he'd noticed over the years that they kept the ritual. It was a part of their dining experience that was most reminiscent to him. Dinner was dreamy. Girls in dresses and bright colors with bows and smiles. They tapped their shoes and against the hard-wooden floor as they each took their seats. Winnard and Dafton responsibly saw to it that Auntie was seated comfortably and Mother as well before taking their seats. There were smiles and rosy lips and clinking silverware. On one evening, in particular Winnard recalled the surprise that his father had planned for him to share time with him. This was one occasion where the dream slowed down and he actually recalled being present at dinner this evening.

"We will prepare a special place for rest in the manor. I would like for everyone to be able to watch the orchard grow at any time throughout the season's," Jeremi said to his son. After dinner, you will meet me just before the balcony at the atrium of the Manor. As the eldest son, there is something that I would like to pass on to you that we will be able to enjoy for years to come, your sisters as well will enjoy this feature that we will create, you and I." Winnard had never heard his father speak so gingerly in all of his life.

After dinner, they met on the balcony as father had planned. There were several slates of wood and nails and rope. Father had planned for them to build swings to hang on the balcony that lead down into the orchard. It was white oak, sanded and polished to a finish. Slate by slate father began to lay each one side by side until there were 2 groups of 6 slates neatly aligned in rows.

"Winnard we are going to hang these swings from there." Father pointed up to the ceiling of the balcony as he and Winnard stood just outside of the doors of the observatory. This rope was mended by a great fisherman down by the waters. Fraisdale purchases from him. He was surprised to receive a request other than the fresh water fish we usually get from him. These will hold for years." Father said curving his lips up at either end and yanking to rope tightly in both of his hands.

Over the course of that week every day during the midday hours Winnard and Father built the swings. They used mallets and nails and staples until each piece was meticulously placed just so. He even went with father to purchase the hooks from which the swings would hang when they were done. They dressed down in their trousers and button up shirts, and rolled back their sleeves daily until the task was complete. Before the task was complete however, his father shared some new perspectives about his family with him.

"There will come a time when your sisters will need you Winnard. Dafton as well." Father said to him, slowing the pace of his speech and articulating each word to him slowly. You are like an anchor for them. They will not always know which way is 'home'." Father’s voice was deep and smooth. He puffed a pipe from the right side of his mouth. He didn't look directly at Winnard as he recited this to his son. He looked out into the distance of the green scenery of the field. As if from nowhere Father pulled out an extra pipe and presented it to Winnard firmly. He felt awkward within himself, but he could sense the rite of passage that was being handed to him in the moment. He continued to listen quietly as Father lit his pipe. Winnard’s heart began to race but he remained standing next to his father in a physically relaxed stance as they braked from their work. "Delcia is..." he hesitated and then began to speak again. Your mother is incomplete son. I was never able to give her what she desired the most." Father paused again and pulled with his rather thick lips at his pipe. His mustache was dark where Winnards had barely begun to fill in. She wanted girls Winnard." Father was shaking his head as he said this looking out into the orchard.

"But you gave her so many. I have many sisters father." Winnard sort of chuckled looking over at his father standing at the opposite end of the swing. He thought that this was the most ludicrous thing he'd ever heard.

"Son, you don't understand." Father took a deep inhale from his pipe and blew the smoke out slowly. "I love your sisters and they are my daughters, but there is a grander story that I have never told you and certainly not Delcia. Correction Winnard, your mother. I have never told your mother." He did not make eye contact with Winnard as he revealed this story. Winnard was confused and did not catch on quickly to the concept that his father conveyed. But Father, I have sisters. I have 10 bloody sisters!" Winnard said before placing the pipe into his mouth to pull on it for the first time.

"Yeah son. Well, there's a story."

As if coming back to himself for a moment, Jeremi walked across the terrace towards the entrance of the observatory where a step ladder leaned against the heavy sheet of glass. He pulled the ladder about 12 steps until he stood dead center on the porch and let the ladder rest there. He still pulled at his pipe. Winnard tried to follow suit. He pulled and coughed. His father seemed to pretend not to notice and continued with his story.

"Your sisters are unique Winnard."

"Of, course father. WE are all unique. You have told me this. My tutors tell me this same thing."

"Even more so Winnard. Your sisters are just becoming real. They were a gift to your mother. Every year for almost 12 years they were a gift. But it was never enough for her."

"Your sisters are going to need you, because they don't know their own story. In my office, there is a small leather binder with the details. When the time is, right I will give it over to you and the legacy that is our family will belong to you. Do you understand Winnard? In time, you will know all about the family that sits together at the table every evening. For now, just maintain your position."

"Your daughters? What do you mean? Are they not yours and mothers?" Winnard asked curiously. He tried not to make eye contact with his father as his father had not made eye contact with him either.

"I can explain now. Another time will be the better time for this, however. Take care that there is more to the history of them Winnard. Dafton does not need to know this information so much yet as I believe that you do by privilege of your birth right as the eldest brother."

Jeremi did not give too many more supporting details about this to his. Winnard always felt that there was a small disconnect between him and his sisters, but he just imagined that it was because they were girls and younger than him. His father had said that they were his daughters but not his mothers. He did not know how to render this to himself. He was not emotional as a youth and so he was not strongly affected by this information at the time. There was coming a time however, where it would affect him. The family was not prepared for more than what their story already encompassed. As for now, however, they simply rested assure in what they knew about themselves as the Brinbridge Family.

They finished hanging the swings from the balcony ceiling on either side of the gapping space that was an open roof where the sun shine or rain could fall onto the stone balcony just outside the Observatory. His father, he observed, placed the ladder against the wall in the corner of the balcony perhaps to put away at a later time. They both nodded their heads and finished the last of the pipes before sitting them down on the ledge of one of the columns to allow them to burn out without snuffing.

He was coming into the year where he would inevitably be sent to the University of his choice. This information was new to him. He had never imagined that his family harbored secrets that would change the way that he perceived them and their legacy. Winnard couldn't tell if it was just the news that he had received, but something was really changing, a feeling finally. His interest was sparked in a way that he had never experienced before. He couldn't shake it after that talk with his father and the reason why was asserted soon thereafter.

It came to him when he visited the Library on the second level one morning to look into the plethora of options available to him at the University that he would choose. He knew that he liked to build miniature structures, but he did not like the physical labor that went into the processes of building them scaled to life size. Architectural design and scaffolding were pleasurable for him conceptually, but he wasn't sure if such a pursuit was going to satiate his trajectory of success. He wanted to avoid his father’s presence at the office so he searched quickly and had difficulty focusing until when thumbing through one of the books a napkin fell to the floor. He was seated with his back ramrod straight and decided to hold the book close to him instead of placing it on the cherry wooden table top.

"When did this...? Someone must have been holding a place in this book. Who here would?" Winnard asked aloud even though there was no one around to reply. Switching the position of the book to one hand, he bent down while still seated. That's when he noticed the writing on the cloth napkin. A rather verbose script unfolded as he clasped it into his hands allowing is to unfurl between his fingers. He placed the book down on the reading table just then. It read:

"I would arise to the occasion of constructing a monument whose scale was true to life if it would be considered a contribution to the great historical architecture of today. But then again, I will not be there then to know if my effort now will become what I wish. To what then do I contribute my services in a way that might ensure that they are preserved in the way that I desire? Is not that a monarchial perspective or stance to take in a patriarchal time of civil unrest to the east of Med.? And for us to be here so close to the Danneker Banks?"

It sounded oddly familiar to him from a time in the not too distant past. He read it and then reread the script. The writing was fancy, but slanted as if written on soft turf. He sat contemplatively. The book open before him was turned to a page of inked sketches of rafters fit for the construction of a cupola. The plan he was reading into was fit to build a great cathedral.

"This sounds like something that I have said to father. Yet, it is not father's print." Winnard folded the napkin and thoughtfully placed it in a pocket threaded into the right breast of his shirt. Someone had been listening to him. Someone was listening very meticulously. It had to be someone in the house. He thought about a person of the staff. His mind went to Lolita, but quickly he dismissed this. Magdelene and Kaitlyn seemed to be into their own studies. They didn't seem to give the brother's too much mind unless a sister inadvertently challenged something that the brothers had asserted to be true. Gilda and Helen were not this articulate. Nature was their main study. The girls could name species both common and scientific of animals that he had yet to even see, but they were not writers. "The rest are young," he thought to himself. This looked as though it was written due to an interest someone had in what he said. Someone had an interest in his thoughts. This both baffled and flattered Winnard. No one had ever seemed truly interested in his thoughts before. Father feigned interest of course, but never recollected and reflected with him. "They wrote my words, my thoughts." His lips curled up at the ends and ever so slightly. For the first time, he felt something that he could not put a name to. It was pride that he felt.

For the next few weeks and even into the next season Winnard watched the sisters. He watched the library. He felt like an inspector. He wanted to find out who had written his thoughts. He was more careful about what he spoke to father about over dinner. In fact, he began to prepare his conversations in advance in an effort to observe if someone was watching. His younger brother seemed to follow in his logic. After a couple of weeks Dafton also came to the dinner table with fresh ideas and nuances of explanation for differences that he observed in the behaviors relatives and lessons learned.

"I too plan to be off to a university in my next year father. Once we are done seeing Winnard off, I had plans in order already for where I'd like to dedicate my studies," Dafton said one evening as they sat to eat as a family.

"Non-sense Dafton when I am away you must be here to tend to Mother and Auntie along with father. When my studies are complete you may attend a university upon my return. That is the order in which your learning will become fulfilled."

"Father is this the agreed upon ideal? Is it as Winnard says?"

"You do have obligations to the family and he is your older brother. I think that he is making practical decisions. The ones that I would anticipate coming from the heir to our legacy."

Dafton looked attentively at Father. The girls sat in quiet expectation. Mother took her glass into her hand; the wine fluke, and sipped elegantly, not disturbing a single rhythm of the conversational exchanges. Winnard was pleased with Father's response. Dafton sat ramrod straight in his chair. He tried not to reveal his falling countenance.

"There is a lot that you will be able to study with your tutor here at the manor when I am gone. You should gear your thoughts and planning in that way to prepare for the study you choose later." Winnard said to his younger brother.

Dinner commenced when he made no reply. Winnard kept his eyes in revolving rotation trying to identify if there was a sister who appeared to be overly indulged in his conversation. To his dismay there were no clues at the dinner table tonight. Still, Cindelle was able to gather notes for her journal that evening.

In the days of the diligent one might seek to sustain a rank in the patriarchy if his family were not already in the clearing amongst the aristocracy. In these times, however, it is difficult to separate the previous upholders of the realm from the onslaught of the revolution, as it was once thought a ceaseless causation. Without the necessitation of a revival, out of what once was ashes has been constructed a bridge fortified, tried by fire. How then might a man, such as myself, decide to build into a place where I might achieve rank and recognition in a new time, or to give it pause; turning hither to the present where recognition and rank are a man's already?

Cindelle could not tell if her feelings were revealing an appalling truth about Winnard's attributes, or if she grew warm inside because his expression settled something residing and rising from within her. His words were the meal that night for her. The meal was the show. Plates decorated for the eyes to be entertained. Colorful and vibrant assortments of vegetation. Steaming cuts of a roasted creature. Creamy tones on delicacies fit for the occasion of any grand event. His words provided sustenance. Indeed, Cindelle could not wait to return to the occasion of the familial and required tradition of dinner the next evening. As quietly as she could, Cindelle, wrote to herself what thoughts she could add to the notes for her own understanding should she stumble upon the perfect compilation to acquire details explaining Winnard's position, his thoughts, and his trajectory. If he knew what she knew, it just was not fit for a young girl of Cindy's age nor station, even with the familial orientation, where Brinbridge was the picturesque backdrop, to have such knowledge. It was indicative of having been in the presence and under the teaching of someone of the opposite sex, for women did not generally teach nor discuss such notions.

Winnard reached for his glass a sipped in mid conversation, between taking in a bite of the tender bird. It caught his attention though that of all of the sisters who bent their elbows inward and toward themselves to taste or sip, the form of one sister was different. Magdelene sat next to Auntie, and she was the only exception. She hardly touched her plate that evening. It was Cindy whose attention was not on her plate, nor on anything that was above the table. He feigned un-notice. He tucked his thought of Cindy aside in his mind and within seconds of his observation he returned his attention to dinner, Father, and conversations lined with plans of action designed to establish his foundation as the young head of familial relations. Secretly, however, the image of her stained his mind that evening at the dinner table. The impression of her profile soft and aglow by the light of the hanging..., her thick dark mass of curls tucked tightly into a bonnet. Her dark eyes almost black like shiny onyx stones looking low, not at the table, but just beneath it. Intently, she focused with tension tugging visibly at the corners of her lips. For fear he might be caught staring he turned away as quickly as he could. His mind lingered on the subject that was her. Had he found the one who had written his words? How to approach the matter would prove a difficult task, but one of which he could possibly get to the bottom.

Chapter 3- Inked Cloth

She awoke early this morn in particular and decided to go out to watch the sun rise. She wanted to feel its warmth wash over her. Just before it graced the sky, tinging it with luminescent oranges and yellows, there was a shimmering and a shivering that would overcome her if she could make it to watch the sun come up in time. Assuming that the manor was asleep as normal, Cindy splashed her face with the basin of water and blotted it to dry with her towel. She checked her appearance in the vanity mirror and saw that the dark mass of her hair was wet and slick and stuck to her forehead. She hunched her shoulders and tightened the bonnet at the nape of her neck. She looked left at her profile in the mirror. Then she turned and looked at the right side of her profile. Cindy bit down on her bottom lip as she observed the red blotches on either side of her face from sleep. She pressed her finger to one of the blotches and watched the white rise up through the flesh color and then she watched it return to the swollen pinkish flesh tone as she depressed.

“This will just have to do. No one is awake and by the time they are, I will be normal again.” Cindy said to herself aloud. She walked across the floor pausing at the lower finial of her bed frame beneath which rested a wooden chest. She undid the latch at its front and then she opened it and reached inside to retrieve her journal, and ink pad, and a pen. Cindy tucked these into a deep pocket that rested within her bed-dress. Closing the chest, she quickly found her slippers and put them on. Taking the oil lamp into her hand and walking carefully so as not to let any contents in her pockets spill she walked over to her door. She took one last glance allowing her eyes to sweep her room. Tapestry curtains had a gaping space which revealed that the sky was still in darkness. With her free hand Cindy reached for the brass handle and tugged the door of her bedroom open. Closing it tightly behind her, she went on her way to the upper library to outside on the veranda of the manor at its atrium.

Meanwhile, in the orchard Winnard sat beneath the line of trees closest the manor. He saw the spark of a flame in the eastwardly wing. He was afoot in no time and began to make his way back to the manor. He decided to go in closer to the manor so that he could observe the light up close and listen for who was stirring at that hour. The house servants surely were not in that part of the manor at that time, he thought quietly. He had a sense of the presence. It was approaching his location. He positioned himself behind the swing close to the stone wall a short distance from the glass doors that lead to the Observatory. He sat and waited with one foot raised in alignment with the stone railing that enclosed the balcony. The other foot, Winnard used for leverage against the balcony floor. He sat there and he waited silently and patiently, sensing and listening.

Within moments there was someone at the glass doors opening and closing them. He was confused, since there was no light from a lamp that he could observe. In the pitch black space they sat on the swing. Winnard could hear the metal stand touch the ground beneath the swing. It hung and swayed silently by its ropes. She sat quietly unaware of another presence at first. Then she began to feel. Careful not to mistaken the feeling for the quickening of the sun ascending Cindy sat still for a few moments longer to observe. Next there was the voice of another. It was deep and smooth and made her think immediately of the running waters at banks of Danneker.

“I do not mean to startle you.” Winnard said from out of the thickness of what was still night air.

“Uah!” Cindy inhaled deeply. She was surprised to learn that her hunch was correct. There was someone out there with her. She stood up immediately and turned toward the direction from which the voice came. “Who’s speaking?” she asked trying to gather herself. Her brow frowned into the darkness, for no figure had yet appeared.

“Winnard,” he replied gently. With that announcement, he stood and began to draw closer to where she stood until they could see one another’s shadowy figure. “Do you mind?” He pointed toward the seat encouraging her to sit upon the swing once more.

“Well I don’t suppose that I do.”

“It is barely dawn. Why did you come here?”

“I wanted to watch the sun rise up over the redwoods until it reached the orchard.”

“Is this a ritual, or have you just stumbled across this undertaking?”

“It is a common undertaking that I indulge commonly at this hour.”

“I am pleased to witness. They sleep and I often rise to watch until the manor awakes and I sense movement within.” He tilted his head toward the glass doors as he said this. One hand was in his trouser pocket. He traced the back of the swing with his other hand, allowing his finger tips to trace the smooth wooden slate.

Cindy began to relax. Her tense shoulders rounded out and she began to consider taking her seat once again. Then she decided to stand a bit longer with him. With her brother with whom she hardly had ever gotten to speak. She knew that he knew things. She was fascinated whenever she thought that he might speak. She knew that she would like to listen. She had never been alone to hear him though. Taking his hand from his pocket, he wanted to show her something.

“Does the lamp not have oil?” he asked.

“Oh, yes it does.” She replied as they both looked down at where it rested. The handled shown just enough with some reflected light whose source could not be identified. Cindy reached for it and placed it on the swing. She bent low to the floor. She drew a match from within her bed-dress, still careful not to disclose the other contents robed within her garments. Striking the match against the ground she lit a flame and touched it to the wick of the lamp. Winnard watched and waited until there was light.

“I did not wish for the manor to know that I was about and awake, so I dimmed it in the halls before I came out. By the time, I came here the light was gone.” She stood again and faced him as she spoke. “Did you want me to see you?” She asked with hesitation.

“It appears that you have seen me already.” Winnard placed the cloth napkin where Cindy could see it.

She was much abashed. Her face became flushed, her eyes grew wide until Winnard witnessed the flame refracted therein. Seeing and knowing that she was exposed, she turned away from him quickly and began to speak to Winnard with her back towards him.

“Where did you find it?”

“Aven gard don daedra node.’” Winnard spoke a foreign tongue, knowing that Cindy would understand his speech.

“In a place where it was never hidden.” Cindy translated in a whisper. “Will you return it to me please?” Still, she faced away from him. She felt exposed by the oil lamp. Its orange flame cast light and shadows as they stood together on the veranda. The glass doors became like a mirror and she could see herself and Winnard and their respective poses. Even the stairs that led into the orchard were lit, but the light stopped there. All else around them remained in pitch blackness.

“I will return it to you.”

“Will I be punished?”

“I see no reason to punish an understudy, even if the one studying is doing so without permission.” He paused and heard Cindy exhaled with relief before again continuing. “Even if the one studying is inquiring to attain knowledge that will not be of any use to her. For in the future there may come a time when she might be able to know of such mysteries and make use of them on her own; bending thoughts and wills in ways to her liking.”

“Is that the way of the patriarchs? They bend the thoughts and wills of others to do their bidding?”

“Let not your thoughts reside in the field of inquiring minds just now.” Winnard said to her.

“I would like to sit a watch the sun rise up over the redwoods until its warm light touches the orchard.”

“I will sit with you and watch as well.” He walked around to where Cindy stood. Without looking toward, him she gather the lamp into her hand and turned to small knob so that the flame went out. She placed it again onto the ground where they stood and then she was seated, as was Winnard. At first, they witnessed the warm vibrations race through their bodies. They felt their hearts grow warm and their arms tingle with sensation. Still, they were quiet, gently swaying back and forth. Cindy with the cloth napkin between her fingertips. They sat in the darkness until morning began to pour into the sky.

Chapter 3 Part II- The Invitation

That day Delcia sat in the window of the front most room of the manor in a rocking chair for hours. She was there when Winnard returned from the orchard after having conversations with Cindelle. She was there when Gilda and Hyde left out to hunt for quail eggs that morning.

“Mother we are going out on an excursion. Gilda and I will be looking for quail’s eggs and any other nests where we might find such delicacies,” Hyde said this to their mother.

Delcia hardly turned her head toward the girls. “Watch the treacherous boulders on the trails, you know the ones with edges like daggers? Will you take the trail? Or will you be making your own way?”

“We will be making our own way Mother. We are not traveling toward Daneker Bridge this morn. The currents are high and there looks to be a storm on the rise. We will be making our own path through the thickest past the ever green and near the red woods that surround the orchard,” Gilda replied.

“Father works until dusk this evening. I shall see you both at dinner.”

“Would you join us for lunch if we are successful in our search of quail nests?”

“Perhaps I will join you.” Delcia turned to look just then. The girls bent forward at their waists giving a slight bow of the head; a curtsey to their mother. The pleats in their dress fell open as they gathered the material of their gowns in hand.

“Until we return mother!” Gilda called out with a tinge of excitement in her voice at the thought of lunch with their mother.

Delcia turned her head back to the window and let a single tear fall from her eye. She felt alone in a house full of children, and wonderful husband who came home to her faithfully. She had borne two sons for Jeremi. She recalled those pregnancies well, but the girls all came so quickly. They were born as stair-steps are. Each girl’s age was right behind the next. They were beautiful all of them. They were graceful even. Much resemblance to their father, Delcia could see in them, but she was searching for remnants of herself. She wanted to see a spark of her own spirit within them. Delcia wanted to observe in them, aspects of her soul. It ached in her heart that she felt more of bond with her son’s than with any of her daughters. As she pondered this thought and just before another tear could fall, she turned to the gaited door way that lead in to the main hall of the manor. She could hear the tapping of shoes and perhaps a loose buckle against the marble floors. She gathered her handkerchief from a pocket within her dress. She placed one foot flat against the floor to stop the ebbing of the rocking chair.

“Mother!” Gilda cried out to her.

“Mother! We have news!” Hyde followed in tow.

“News? Of what girls? I thought that you have gone from the manor already. Has someone met you on the grounds?”

“No Mother. We have a letter.” Gilda presented the letter to Delcia. The script with Delcia and Jeremi Brinbridge’s name was fancy and the red wax was impressed with the letter W, which sealed closed the envelope.

“May we watch you open the letter mother? We want to know the news,” Hyde exclaimed in a quiet gleeful tone.

“I suppose you may. Gilda the opener in the letter basket at the entrance of the manor please.”

“Right away mother.”

She left and had returned within moments. Mother opened the letter and the girls watched in anticipation. Hyde still held their picnic basket in hand which they would use for the collection of their findings.

Dear Brinbridge Family,

On this most joyous occasion you have been invited to join the Wildemere Masquerade Ball on the 8th day of the 10th month this same year. The masquerade begins at sundown. The occasion being that the Wildemere manor is expanding to include Sir Jeprey and his brother Sir Lemore. We do look forward to you joining us in our celebration. Those in their 15th year and beyond are welcome.

RSVP via courier as soon as you are able.

Viscount and Countress Wildemere

Delcia had read the letter for the girls to hear. They were immediately filled up and requested to be excused. Hyde and Gilda left on their excursion with much to discuss on that morning. They set off on their path. Delcia should have been able to watch them climb to the trail on the Eastern side of the manor, however, the hedges prevented her ability. She folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope. She would share the news with Jeremi in the evening before bed as she was sure that the girls knew not to make mention of such an occasion openly at dinner.

Winnard and Dafton were sure to be elated with the opportunity to have their charms met with that of the Wildemere’s. There were boroughs in these parts of the Medt. Coasts. Countress Wretha Wildemere had born daughters, but no son’s. Before now there never was an opportunity where the families could gather together and meet. A masquerade was no promise to change this. After all meetings had to be face to face and an affair with such grandeur might hardly provide the basis for serious mingling. Two families couldn’t get to know one another if they were both dressed in façades. Delcia thought briefly that perhaps meeting one in a mask was the best way to get to know one after all. For when meeting people, plainly one can never tell if they are meeting them precisely. If one could tell there would be no need for such grand induction.

At this thought Delcia’s tears stopped completely. There was something here to focus upon. She never understood the tears. They flowed because the girls seemed far away no matter how close they were and no matter how many of them there were. Perhaps a ball would provide her with an opportunity to feel a bond and to fill a void. They were going to make it a grand event. It was the Wildemere’s Ball but the Brinbridge family would bring more to the occasion.

Auntie Faelene also had cause for the occasion, Delcia thought. She’d been designing a plan for the son’s to be betrothed. The Wildemere daughters were of a family that she considered. Their family had a long line, and while not very politically oriented their legacy had resounded through the old winds of the coasts for over half a century. Perhaps another family that she considered for Young Dafton would be present as well and make the arrangements for building stronger connections for the families that much closer.

Cindelle returned to her chambers that morning. She wrote about her unexpected meeting with Winnard out on the veranda of the Observatory. “How could I have been so dim witted to have left my note in the Library?” She asked herself this question thoughtfully. “And I’ have never even noticed it missing. Also, how had he known that it was me who had written the note?”

Cindy had never really spoken directly with Winnard nor Dafton. It was not appropriate. Even though this was unspoken. She didn’t understand the unsaid rule, but she acknowledged it along with the rest of the sisters. However, Winnard did not seem to acknowledge the unsaid rule. It was him who came to where she was, if she were not mistaken. She really could not tell if she went out to the veranda because he was there or had she already made up her mind? Was he there already? Or had he come up to the balcony because she was there? It was different to have a conversation with him. She always spoke to the sisters and to mother and occasionally to father, but Winnard was different. Speaking to him was like speaking to someone more like…She couldn’t find the words immediately. He was more like her, she felt. His experiences were different and broader, but he spoke to her as though she was her own person. Cindy felt this, and she liked what she felt, and she wanted to speak with him again.

The girls met in the Library after the tutors had come and gone for the day. They each had their work cut out for them. They were in the 8th month and the season was turning. Cindy, Helen, and Estelle all gathered together at the grand cherry wood oval table polished to a reflective finish. Cindy stood, and walked around where her sisters sat. She went over to the oil painting on one side of the heavy door that gave entrance into the library from the main hall of the lower level of the manor. She often studied this picture. She would match up what she could see of Danneker Bridge in the painting with what she saw when she visited the bank of the river there. The sky was warm and the sun lit the tall grasses and trees. The water sparkled in the bend as it stretched out and reached beneath the overpass. The stones that comprised the bridge were deeply impressed there upon. Cindy figured that the season in the painting was close to what the season was now becoming. The crimson leaves on the trees portrayed this. The evergreens were always the same each season. The light coming into the Library added life to the picture.

Helen sat at the table reading a book. She placed her finger over the words as though a magnet were at her tips guiding her reading. “Have you ever heard of a place where time is different? Where things change because you are simply in a different space?” Helen asked openly in a voice just above a whisper.

“Well of course. I am in this room of books and it is time to study. If I leave this room, then it will be time to approach the main hall and decide to go into the upper chambers of the manor or to remain in one of the rooms down here.” Estelle replied.

“Well, that is true, but that’s not quite what I meant. I mean time difference like if you walked onto the other side of the door and there was a kingdom with jousting horses and a tournament just beyond it?”

“That’s interesting Helen that you would ponder such fancy. Whatever made you think of such a thing?”

“Well I’m looking here at a map of what the world is supposed to look like. It’s divided into zones that are hot, or cold, or warm relative to its distance from the sun. I mean all sorts of things change within these zones as a result of its distance away from the sun. Its landscape changes and the terrain, what grows and how people are who live there. I can’t help but imagine if the position of something else that was constant like the sun would affect other places. I’m saying that if it was dark in here we would still be here but we would not be able to see each other.”

“Someone’s been sharing a breath with an unnamed one.” Estelle said tauntingly.

“Oh, hush you! If you don’t wish to hear me speak then I will be silent again.” Helen replied.

“No need to bicker between us. Either way your thoughts are safe with me,” said Cindy. She wanted to share some of her thoughts with the sisters as well. It just did not feel like the time was right. Besides this sounded like an opportunity to engage the trust of these sisters. For no one knew of her morning encounter with the brother Winnard. While it was merely an engagement of conversation, Cindy knew that it entailed more and implied something deeper. On the coast, there were secrets. Her origins and that of her sisters had a story, though none of them knew for sure. There were tensions, and silence between a mother and a daughter where it was no warranted and speech of broad subjects that need not be spoken about in an intimate familial meet. Things were a little awkward to say the least. Still, the sisters and Mother and the family continued on daily in routine, not missing a beat and not ever stating anything that was the obvious. “Besides, whoever has acquired any knowledge of interest by staying outside of the bounds of those who we refer to as an unnamed one?”

“But there are certain individuals with whom ladies should never engage in conversation. Least they fill our minds with obscenities that cause ruin in places that we are not fit to replenish,” Estelle recited this as if it were her very own thought. Of course, it was a regurgitation of the teachings of the Maestra and Maestro who were their tutors. The teachings of the Brinbridge’s and Auntie in particular. All of us knew who ruled the manor; it was father of course. The manor ran according to his wishes. However, it was Auntie who was designing the legacy of the Brinbridge family, they all knew of her plans to ensure that our legacy gained a political foothold in the upcoming seasons, but no one really knew why. It was Winnard with his plans for attending a university that shed light on this matter. Cindelle was keeping up with his pursuits and saw his struggle to decide to stay and hold strong to his position as a patriarchal figure, or to move forward and participate in the revolution of the industries. Unaware as to whether or not the other sisters were keeping up with Winnard’s updates, Cindy just wanted to make sure that should she say something out the mundane, or should on any occasion be seen in encounter with Winnard that he would not be considered an unnamed one by at least these sisters.”

“How do you, Estelle imagine that we might acquire information? If the information intrigues and rings true, how important are its sources to you?”

“I never quite thought of it that way Cindy to be honest,” Estelle admitted. Her simple mindedness was very reliable in that way.

Cindy had turned to face Estelle and Helen. While Helen’s eyes stayed steady on the pages in her book, she participated in the conversation and appeared to have caught the undertones where Cindy gave implication. Estelle had found her way over to the couch which was upholstered with a thick, polished umber leather. She sat with her legs folded beneath, tucked away by the frilly deep blue satin dress all about her knees and ankles where the ivory color laced showed. Turned at the waist with her arms trim across the back of the couch and hands folded, face staring out of the window into the orchard as noon fell, so that only the bonnet on her head was what Cindy saw when she turned to speak to Estelle and Helen again.

Just then, there was silence and then the heavy door of the library creaked open. Cindy moved away from the oil painting. She walked over to the table and stood a few feet away from Helen, who in that instant gazed up from her book. Estelle turned to see the commotion as well.

“Have you heard the news?” It was Gilda and Hyde who entered into the library. They spoke with their voices just above a whisper. Hyde went over to the table and pulled one of the heavy chairs back so that she could be seated. She placed a small basket which was positioned over her arm onto the table. Gilda followed suit except for she walked around the table and chairs and went over to where Estelle sat and joined her right there. Gilda’s lips were curved up and her eyes glistened. Her dress was a deep mauve and it too spread out about her in layers that blended in with that of Estelle.

“What news is this Gilda, Hyde?” Helen asked looking at both of them. She turned to look behind her slightly at Gilda and then in front of her where Hyde now sat. Cindelle walked closer to the table to listen in. Excited though they all were, Cindy had something that was more exciting than any news she felt. Still, she wanted to hear. She leaned in and placed her eyes on Hyde.

“You do know of the WIldemere’s?” Hyde said.

“One of the four manors here on this coast. Yes, I know of the WIldemere’s.” Helen replied.

“Yes, we can all agree that we know of the Wildemere’s.” Estelle added.

“Well, they are having a party and Mother was informed this morning!”

“Ok, so what news is that? It’s not very exciting news Hyde. Why are the two of you so happy to report?”

“Oh, posh Helen! They are having a masquerade ball and it is very exciting news because we have all been invited!” Gilda couldn’t get the information out quickly enough to portray her happiness at a new event. “Yes, and that’s not all.”

“There is more to it than just the masquerade ball.” Hyde continued. “There will be new members here in our borough on this coast. Sir Jeprey and Sir Lemore are joining the Manor. That is the occasion for the ball!”

“Are they not from the central coast of the America’s?” Helen asked.

“Indeed, they are and now they will be coming here to settle.”

“You do know what this means?”

“Betrothals are aloof.”

“No way! Why would it mean that? And for whom would it indicate such an event?” Hyde and Helen being the elder sisters in the room knew more about affairs and arrangements via familiar tradition than either Cindy or Estelle or Gilda. So, they were able to speak back and forth in this manner while the other sisters listened.

“Well you don’t suppose that they are beyond their 15th year? Either of them, do you?” Hyde questioned.

“I do believe that Sir Jeprey is in his 17th year. He and Winnard are nearing the same season,” Helen replied.

“Impossible! Perhaps in his 16th year. Winnard will be going off to a university soon. He must be closer to Dafton’s year.

“My, then you could be right.” Helen had not removed her hands from beneath the cover of the book that was open and cradled within them. She responded evenly and calmly to Hyde’s details no matter how grand to news appeared to be to the rest of the sisters.

“I am correct, and I just wanted to make sure that the real news had been received by you all.” With that last remark, Hyde slide her seat back slowly and laboriously. The library chairs were heavy. She glanced at the sisters, each of them individually and then she stood up and turned on her heels to leave the library.

Before she could get too close to the exit, however, Helen added; “Perhaps you should inform Kaitlyn and Magdelene. After all, not all of us have to be concerned for the arrangements of our coming of age in life just yet.” She raised one of her dark eye brows as if she had just read something suspicious, as she had yet to look up from her book since Hyde and Gilda entered to the room with their bramble of Brinbridge Manor headlines.

“Perhaps I will.” Hyde replied deciding to take her news to the next ears thirsty to hear of possible movement within the Manor.

The rest of the sisters sat and stared quietly at one another, unsure of what to make of the details that had just been spun upon them. Cindy had other plans and figured there were more details about this coming event, but decided to hold her tongue in the presence of the sisters. She regarded the news with little heed as to how it pertained to her. She followed Hyde out of the library. Each of them making their way to the grand stair case of the lower level of the manor where form they would ascend to their separate bedroom chambers.

That afternoon the clouds covered the sky in a thick gray mass as it began to rain. The rain fell well into the night. Dinner was a graceful and coordinated engagement for them all. Everyone gathered quietly around the table. No one knew who had heard of the news of the Masquerade ball. No one knew if it would be mentioned at the dinner table tonight. The tension was thick during brief periods of silence. Everyone watched Fraisdale intensely as he directed the kitchen staff to serve one entrée followed by the next. Dafton, tried as he might, was in no position to carry the weight of the conversation meant to commandeer attentive minds at the dinner table that evening. He spoke clumsily about the cast iron design of the dinnerware used by the common people who populated the inner boarders of the castle walls that were in a far-off place from the land upon which they lived. His Maestro told him about a visit from the ironsmith’s family they’d received at one of the academy’s he’d attended.

“Their bowls have handles and are so heavy that those who are not strong enough to lift the ware to their mouths might starve!” Dafton said thoroughly entertained, by his own recounting of this information. He continued, “So, the mortality rate of the women and the children are not only affected by war, and possible sickness for which no balm could cure, but also by the chance that even if there is food it may be too laborious a task to maneuver to their mouths which contributes to famine. At any rate, it makes me give more attentiveness to our usage of the (silver) flat ware that lies here before us.”

“Well our utility of such luxuries is a compelling force on the frontier of the onslaught of the developing despondencies occurring in the east. Forces with which young men in our generation must decide to accept or contend. Young Dafton, do you imagine that you are prepared to take a position where thwarting less utility might require more of your presence; an active stance perhaps in maintaining the boarders of the coasts here say for instance?”

All eyes were toggled to and fro between the brothers as though a small tournament had been set ablaze on the dining table immediately before us all. It was not often that Dafton offered information detailing his studies and therefore it was not often observed that Winnard would openly challenge the intellect of his younger brother regarding the seeming comforts in which he engaged.

“Since we are all here equally relishing the very difficult works of the Brinbridge family, I trust that we all can understand the pride with which the name is to be carried. I do not anticipate that two of the same blood would decide to stand as anything other than one united mind despite the travails rising and falling in a never ceasing travesties that those in the east confront.” Father held his knife in the left hand lowered to his plate. He held his fork up to his sons. Bobbing it pointedly in their direction for effect. Both Winnard and Dafton were silenced. Dafton looked at Father briefly before returning to consuming his meal. Winnard placed his utensils on either side of his plate with the elegance of someone of noble blood.

Father then proceeded to comment on the progression of the rain which now fell upon the grounds with the strength of a storm, before turning everyone’s attention to how lovely Mother looked tonight. It did appear that she had dressed herself with a tad more care taken to details of her powders and oils. There was something about her tonight that made her appear to be with a bit more grace this evening. The rosy color in her face added a glimmer and a surprising youthfulness in Delcia that all of the family witnessed that evening. Perhaps a said grand event to which one might look forward on occasion could do this to a woman of Mother’s stature.

Dinner concluded and the sisters went to the east wing. Jollie, Phrancis and Ladine being the youngest were led by Lolita. The sons went on their way to the west along with Auntie, Mother and Father. In their chambers that night a rare spark kindled. Jeremi and Delcia shared an intimate evening mingled with cheerful conversations and promises of future endeavors. Vacations away and peradventures for the children that would expand their worlds and while bringing them closer together as a family. Still, Delcia’s mind wondered why when Jeremi spoke about the girls, did a feeling devoid of attachment over take her? Their passionate kisses had dissolved into a pool of silent tears by the night’s end where Jeremi fell soundly asleep in the arms of his forlorn wife, Delcia.

Chapter 4- A Fetal Experiment

On the next morn Cindelle rose before dawn once again. She had not planned to do this. It was a feeling that woke her from her slumber. A rushing felling that made her feel as though catching the first light of the morning would somehow make her more alive than if met daybreak at breakfast. She was unnerved at the encounter with Winnard on yester morn. She was wondered if he would be there, out in the orchard again? Knowing that she might be suspected by him, she was careful not to light her lamp. Only by the light of the moon did she find her way to the pail of water drawn the previous night by Lolita. She splashed her face and then gently touched the towel to her cheeks and forehead careful not to rub. Ruby cheeks against her olive complexion concerned her. She dressed in the darkness with ease as she had dressed herself in such garments hundreds of days before. She tied her bonnet to her hair and pulled several strands at her temples. She planned to return to her chamber as soon a dawn broke through the clouds. She slid her feet into her slippers and brought the oil lamp with her just in case she needed it for reasons unforeseen. Curiously and carefully she walked around the wooden chest at the foot of her bed and went over to the tall window. She peered out into the violet night and could see nothing other than just that until her eyes touch the skyline where the stars hung high shinning bright and where the moon had yet to make way for the coming of the sun. She looked for any sign of movement, she wanted to be prepared if she were to again to unexpectedly find herself in the company of another. There was no hint that she could take and there was no place that provided the same comfort on the manor grounds outside as on the veranda in the hanging chairs. And so, she set off tiptoeing down the hall to the Observatory. Through the atrium, a slight glow lit her path to the veranda. She opened the glass door gently and closed it behind her. She sat down on the swinging chair with the oil lamp beside her and she waited. As she did Cindy relaxed more and more with her feet barely touching the stones beneath. After a while she could feel it. The warmth beginning to rise within her belly causing her to sit up at little straighter. The wind blew and caused a quiver within her and wound her attention to the direction where Cindy could feel the light breaking through the morning sky. The deep violet sky became blended into a purple and silver. Next, the silver in the clouds became tinged with magenta. It was like a symphony for her eyes to behold as it did incite in her a feeling akin to that of hearing a live orchestra as she recalled and tried to make sense of what she was feeling. She was trying to feeling the sense of urgency to meet the morning and to render meaning to why it made her feel as though it was her, physically stretching out into the day, even though she sat there on the terrace, unmoving. However, she was not alone. This transition occurred and that voice that resounded like moving Danneker waters did also.

“I can feel it too.” The voice came from behind her. Cindelle jolted turning her attention there to its direction.

“Winnard, you are here.” She asserted. “Have you been waiting the entire night?”

“For this encounter? Yes.” He stood up. His lanky body straightening into a tall slender mass. One hand was in his trouser pocket. Indigo blue they were, his shirt was beige and flowed in the wind as he moved in closer to where Cindelle now stood facing him.

She did not know how to respond, but the words came with no effort. “I have been waiting as well.” She looked down. Her dress covered her slippers. Cindy touched both hands together in front of her as she looked at the stones in the ground and listened for his next words.

“Have you walked in the orchard?” He asked her in a flat tone.

“I think it odd that you ask, but no, I never have.” Cindy raised her eye brows, but did not look up at Winnard.

“Will you walk with me now?” He asked rather hurriedly, she felt.

“If you think it wise. The manor will be fully awake soon.”

“Not soon enough.” He whispered standing beside her with his arm folded so that he could guide her.

It felt like she was in a dream. She could not imagine that she would take his arm and go, descending the veranda staircase and walking out into the grasses that began just before the line of trees began, but she did. She wanted to walk quickly to disappear into the thickets of fruit trees, but they were spaced just so that Winnard and Cindy could not disappear into the trees. After several paces, however there was a shallow hill, and more hills thereafter. They stopped walking after a while and stood at the trunk of a tree. Winnard rested against it. Cindelle stood before him in her gown and soft leather shoes. Her feet were moist in them and she wiggled her toes lost in distraction which prevented her from being the first to engage them in verbal exchanges. And she was not prepared for the clear audible whisper that escaped Winnards lips and landed on her ears like the whistle of a gentle breeze.

“Though I rest it does not fade. The curvature of her face his hand doth wish to draw. Summoning soft cresses and tresses he would trim. Only they live in perfection already. Loyal to any day where he might find her spirit therein. These words I hope to place within the inner ear of you and have it be known that I call unto your graces because in your presence soul sparks life and causes me to speak to you. I intend for you to witness magnificence in these words as they peer through to you from never ceasing cascading falls of my affection and flow like the waters of Danneker, there and further.” Winnard recited this song staring off into the distance of the trail in the direction from which they had arrived. Cindelle heard every word and was pierced by them although she did not yet know if she should except them form Winnard as though they were for her directly. She wanted to reciprocate his tolerance of her and she rummaged through her mind for some remembrance of a block of text appropriate for the moment. She searched in vain. Looking into his is face trying to see if there was an expectation in one direction or another, but no preference rang out and therefore she was propelled to speak from her heart as she never had before. Prior to this encounter she was not even aware of it as a possibility.

“The gentle command of rhyme from a place least expected has been accepted and she is here where you beckoned her to come forth. Regardless of whence this perplexing vantage has come, unsure footing upon solid ground does not carrying one far enough whereby, the fantastic measures that may have been implied require a gapping abyss to be bridged so that my soul might feel the warmth of the light where from he meant for it to be refracted. Otherwise, her spirit recedes back into the depths where he first drew her cresses and tresses trim and all. Permission granted to unlock the clasp if that is his intention, but quickly as the waters of Danneker are colored murky except for in their rush and a crescendo of a roar as they touch back to the calmer flow of the rivers course.” She hoped that the bite wasn’t too much as clumsy as she felt that her account and countering of the matter at hand may have been. He was ready with a response.

“There are pyres unattended and therefore are stark and cool. No remembrance of a soul that was not yet awake can be recalled of one slumbering. He represents a claim that her static life has been observed and is resonating a cause to imbue a stature of greater consequence than that which was first presented. For the bundle is already scaling the inordinate value for which all glances should improve by mere provocation that there even is such a clearing. He has found it and lays hold strongly to the singed aspect of her existence still smudged with hot ashes. Would the preference of the one in question require to be hidden when on all accounts hitherto requisite beauty cannot be contrite even with added force and makeshift dints? They would be false and a travesty to the established rapture wherein the inner working of the one who sees admires her.” With this Winnard made his trajectory clear. Cindelle was a bit more prepared and receptive to his plight. She noticed the light broken apart on their clothes and face, and hair by the dappling effect of the sun shining through the leaves onto them as they stood together beneath a pear tree. The sun coming up from the east lit Cindelle’s face and Winnard’s dark hair which had a reddish tint like a chestnut, she noticed. She wanted to touch his hair just then, but she did so only in thought.

I wonder if his hair is like mine. Smooth and coarse at the ends and thick. Sounds as though I am describing him by reflecting on traits about myself. Although before now I had not known him to say such things as these nor thought of him in such a way. His words are inciting within me a feeling that I must weigh with my conscience. However, it is unfair to be confronted with such a decision as my mind is not the final mechanism that will measure what this outcome should be. Rather, my physiology is responding to his words, and I find it very titillating that his speech touches me in places that I thought were concealed.

“Your speech extends beyond mind and past my thoughts although I wish to be clear that I am regarding it here.” With her index finger Cindy pointed to Winnard’s forehead, but did not make contact with his skin. She placed her hand by her sides again almost as immediately as she had lifted it. Then, she continued; “That mere words can affect one in the physiological sense is a concept with which I am not familiar before the present. It is a truth experientially now. Had you fore knowledge that there was such a thing? Before you wove your speech in the fashion that you did?”

He leaned in closer to Cindelle without raising his back from the trees trunk completely. They stood inches apart.

“Further clarification is what you say you seek when it is me who you had sought out already. You picked my thoughts like this.” She had not seen his hand ascend to the branch from whence he plucked a single fruit and presented it to her. “How then do you ask me to illuminate my intentions concerning you? Had not you designs upon this in your scheming mind? Or am I to believe that I have drawn you this far as a plan that is completely my own which I hereby deem a false notion.

His words scorched her and as Winnard beheld what was her beauty, he also witnessed it as her pain. A single tear fell from her eyes. In this light, they were the color of amber and not onyx. Her brows came close together in a small wrinkle.

“Did you lead me here through the orchard only to accuse me that to which I am innocent?” Cindelle asked with conviction. She gathered her gown in her hands and turned away from him. For she had unwittingly lost the will to look him in the eyes. Yet she was not prepared to return to the manor on her own.

He went over to her then. Without words, he placed the pear before her as he stood behind her not revealing himself. He then snatched the fruit away behind her where she was not looking. He then presented it on the other side of her. He had her attention then as she moved her head to look at the pear as he again placed it where he stood behind her. She then turned to face him once again. Still, she frowned. Winnard, he smiled and held the pear out to her. After a moment of struggling with what she should do, she reached out for it and he rescinded the invitation for her to partake. He instead took the fruit for himself. Placing it to his lips, he bit into it and then relaxed back again onto the trunk of the tree.

“I led you here so that you might get to know me and not just my notions concerning the world. For, if you were like wild flowers in a field unattended, it would be a travesty that one might over look them, and least of all me.”

“We are kindred and this confuses the senses.”

“Yes, so we have learned that we are and it is a story like that of Zeus and his trident guarding the oceans and ruling the seas.” He took another bite and smiled without looking directly in Cindelle’s direction.

“You do not mean to say such things, Winnard!” Her voice was quiet, but still firm.

She did not know what to make of his comment just then.

“Have forgiveness if I have upset you, surely that was not my intention.”

At this comment Cindelle softened, but not much. Her mind was an uncustomary space and in which she wished to change her thoughts immediately. Her attention went to Winnard eating his pear and then she thought. She reached up as well. To a near branch to bring a fruit unto her. Clumsily, however, she did this. Her balance fled from her, and she being close enough to him when this occurred, was guarded from falling down into the dew and grass by Winnard’s arms. There were no words for her to express her feelings of embarrassment, nor the grace with which he caught her. They were both surprised by the moment and as she gathered herself to her feet slowly as if in a daze, she looked at his face and into his eye by happenstance and saw a sparkle of a notion that added evidence supporting the fact that his words and thoughts shared with her and regarding her had been true. Cindelle learned a new thing again. Gentility was not merely an expression, but could also be an impression, as there was for her no denying that is what she felt in a moment of glimpsing Winnard’s sincerity towards her.

The morning was warming up a bit. The sun rested higher in the skies now. The orchard was lit to the farther reaches of the grounds. To the evergreens and redwoods where geese flew in V formation and shrieked and cawed in the distance as they did this, Cindelle observed, between attentions to Winnard.

“I am studied in the way of certain bureaucracies as heir to the manor and the incomplete, yet established legacy of the Brinbridge Manor and its affairs. I am this by design, and therefore I’ll have you know that I have no intentions on accusing you. To know you better is my aim. I can sense that you knew this already.” As he finished saying this he threw the pears pit further off into the orchard as though he were skipping a stone across water.

There was a brief moment of silence. And then Cindelle spoke; “Thank you for breaking my fall.”

“No one would be more welcome,” Winnard replied. He picked a fruit from the tree and gave it to her. This time she accepted it and began to bite it immediately. “Shall not we make our way back now?”

“We should,” Cindy replied and they did begin to walk back to the manor again.

Chapter 5- Father of Damsels

It was winter that same season when Cindelle and Winnard grew closer, and shared stories and secrets with one another. They often met out on the veranda and from there, they traveled into the vineyard and orchard carrying on in conversations both aloud and some quietly and without words at all. No one appeared inclined to question them regarding the amount of time they shared in each other’s company. Further, it seemed that no one knew. Their conversations helped Cindy grow in her studies and she became of expert knowledge at subjects of the political scope and the agenda of the aristocracy and positions therein of which she learned that father was in pursuit. She was happy and began to know herself in a new way, she also explored knowing Winnard and discovered that there were ways to commune beyond those superficial and easily debunked venues by which individuals proclaimed was a means to share something special with someone outside of yourself. Before this season, she had never been made aware of such a notion. Still, it was not long before she found herself at an impasse. She often recoiled from the company of the family to record in her journal. The time when she was not with Winnard she spent in her chambers challenging herself to think anew and bracing herself for when next Winnard might challenge her to debate again regarding amiss snide justifications as to why it might be important for him to stay at the manor and not attend a university when the time came. In some ways, his thoughts were ingenious when he spoke to her, but in other ways he sounded as though he’d rule as heir of the Brinbridge Manor in a mode akin to a dictator. She was not keen on the experience this might bring upon the manor. Going away to a university would surly thwart his designs in this respect because he would not be close enough to home to truly have a say in settling father’s affairs, nor in Dafton’s presiding time as father’s second in command in Winnard’s absence. In this his apprehensions of leaving to attend a university were most transparent. There was more though as well to his apprehensions. Winnard was indeed prudent to say the least. He was very deliberate in his explorations and sharing of his knowledge with Cindelle as he had not ever with another. He found value in her attentiveness and resourceful as she listened to him and no doubt recorded his very words more often than the note recommended by her own tutors and the maestro who taught her. Her listening ear and wonton heart immediately became a strong and indispensable mean by which he deliberately would come to navigate his coming of age and of his inheritance without the regards of futility in building a rapport with one that his family would have him pursue. He had not prepared Cindelle for what was to come, but it was by his design that the path that befell Cindelle would turn her world inside out. So, it began after a grand affair.

There was the masquerade nearing the end of that season where the Wildemere’s had invited the Brinbridge’s and a host of other head families in the region at the time of whom Winnard was aware; The Harrington family, the Landerwold’s, the Califitch family, the Wellington’s, the Dessero from the furthest regions south of the Agean sea border, and the Devoux. These were just a few of the families that Winnard knew would also be attending the coming of Sir Japrey and Sir Lemore Wildemere into the refined borough of the Danneker Valley and Water’s therein. It was the grandest affair in half a decade, more season’s than Winnard could recall. His mother, however, remembered perfectly well the last time an affair so grand called upon her family’s name to come in to attendance. This masquerade ball might even rival that one. The ladies of the house became consumed by their appearances and what they might wear. Father and Mother decided to dress in fabrics and styles akin to one another. Kaitlyn, Magdelene, Helen, Gilda, Hyde, Estelle, and Cindelle were required to be fitted in the town’s market place by a family of prominent seamstresses. They each chose gowns with racy color’s and made of luminous materials and masks that were metallic to match. Phrancis, Jollie and Ladine were too young to attend the ball. Delcia would make sure that Lolita looked after them and ensure a wonderful night of playing dress up as well. They all got dressed and prepared together and then the eldest sisters departed from the younger and joined the coachman who awaited them. Three coaches carried them comfortably to the ball. The seats were lined with fur animal hide, appropriate for the cold season. The Brinbridge’s would indeed be warm on their way to their destination. Cindelle did not travel in the carriage with Winnard. Rather he and Dafton traveled with mother and father. Auntie traveled in the carriage with Gilda, Hyde, and Estelle. The eldest sisters traveled in a carriage alone.

The Wildemere’s Manor and grounds was somewhat smaller, the estate of about similar size, but it was no less in grandeur.

Wilma Wildemere and Delcia have a conversation about Sir Lemor and a possible betrothal to one of the sister’s. Where Delcia and father disagree with the family’s straightforwardness about the Wildemere’s political intentions, Auntie Faelene find’s their intentions and design helpful to her plans. Plans of which she had yet to share with her Daughter and son in law. Surely, however, the strength in the Wildemere and Brinbridge families joining forces should be regarded as an opportunity to be ceased. Auntie could see the potential in this as the heads of the families shared similar views on the political agendas to which they thought that families should adhere.

As the Brinbridge family crossed the threshold into the Wildemere’s quaint palace, the music blared as an orchestra on the plateau of the grand stair case played a waltz. Guest were already on the dance floor; women looking like majestic wild flowers, with the open blossoms hung downward as they spun in their fancy gowns. The open hall was lit warmly and brightly as was to be expected for such an occasion. First entered Father with Mother on his right arm. Viscount and Countess Wildemere were at entrance to greet them. Next, entered Auntie Faelene with both Winnard and Dafton on either arm. Lastly, the sisters entered and bowed slightly before proceeding to a setting which lined the edges of the enormous entrance hall turned ballroom floor for the evening.

“I suppose that they are Sir Japrey and Sir Lemore at the lower landing of the staircase,” Kaitlyn spoke first to the sister’s.

They stood ramrod straight one at the left banister with a strong ivory column and the other at the right. They appeared to watch the lively action on the Gala Room floor with intense interest. One wore the flat mask of a jester. His ceramics were halved with a striking ultramarine on one side and a glowing white on the other. The other brother wore ochre and gold with hair that matched. He was a lion no doubt.

“I’d say that the elder is the jester and the younger, Sir Lemore is the lion,” Helen pitched to Kailtlyn who turned her head to look at Gida who spoke before she could respond.

“I’d have to agree with you, Helen. What do you think Magdelene?” asked Gilda.

“I’m none too concerned with which is who really. However, if I must attribute my thoughts to them, I’d say that you are all misjudging for obvious reasons. You think that Sir Japrey being the eldest would choose to dress in a costume that appeared mature, but you are judging the maturity of his character based upon the schematics of his color selection. To me the contrary is indicated. The lion represents assuredness and stature among kin. His colors are striking even if the ochre is a bit drab, the gold bands down the arms and legs of his costume and the streaks in the hair of his mane out do the lot of the fabrics here. He is the most majestic lion that these eyes have ever beheld,” Magdalene finished speaking.

“How uncanny. To hear you speak in such form, sister. Although your logic in this regard appears precise you are not deciding so without feeling. Magdelene, what know you of Sir Japrey that your speech regarding him is so specific?” asked Kaitlyn.

All of the sisters peered in focusing their attention on Magdalene as they strained to hear her speak over the volume of the orchestra strings which echoed strongly throughout the hall.

“I know that he has two arranged proposals that he will soon be forced to present to one of 2 families who are present here tonight.” Magdalene said this with the poise of someone who could easily be mistaken for someone of the royal blood line. She was somehow the most trained of the sisters in the manners of a lady. Of course, this could be attributed to the fact that she was the eldest sister. It was also the reason why she had been selected to attend a school for governesses. She would be leaving for school during the next warm season. It would be her duty to train the sisters in the ways that she knew. She would also be able to extend her quality beyond familial relations should she finish successfully. There was no doubt that she would.

Cindelle’s attention was pulled quickly toward the crowd at the mention of this. It was a tinge of concern, and heart flutter, and falling sensation in her center as she wondered where Winnard was endowing himself at this affair. For he had left his post at the Brinbridge designated place to be seated. She did not wish to be caught with her mind wondering and tried to think of a way to show interest in an aspect of the conversation that would not portray where her mind roamed.

“An arranged engagement to no doubt uphold or even further assert his position in a traditional sense. It seems to me that the Wildemere’s are a bureaucratic lot. I gather that this is why he had been assigned to leave his home in Central America.” Cindelle contributed. Winnard had actually done his homework on the brothers who were joining forces with them on this side of the coasts. Their family was being pressured by their government to assimilate the industrial changes taking place in the North America’s. For distant relatives of the Wildemere’s were gaining station there already, however the promise was not absolute. When given the opportunity, their family decided that establishing a station where the promise was already in good standing would be the better venture. They sailed to the Medt. and the southern lands of Europe, and changed their last name from Widomia to the name of their relatives here, Wildemere. Since their house had no sons to assist the Viscount in his establishment, Sir Japrey and Sir Lemore were fetched the prize opportunity of joining his house.

“Where from have you heard such tales, Cindy? How do you know something that you cannot know?” Gilda asked her sharply.

“We each mind our studies. We should be glad for the brothers to have a story of origin, which I can hardly say for some of the names that grace this hall tonight. Further, if her information goes beyond subjectivity, you should receive it as a lesson when in the company of those with whom we are less familiar.” Kaitlyn said in Cindy’s defense. Magdelene held the handgrip of her mask and pulled it away from her face to reveal a look of approbation. Her brows were raised slightly, her eyes sparkles by the light of the candles at the table’s center, and she tilted her head forward slightly in Kaitlyn’s direction.

“Well, I suppose if knowing more is the objective here rather than something absolute,” Gilda retorted.

Cindy added, “I also know that their name was Widomia before they crossed the seas to our waters on this side.”

The conversation if observed closely would have looked like a game being played by the sisters. Their gloved hands pulling the mask from their faces to reveal expression and then covering their face again to quickly conceal that they even displayed such animated affects. Estelle observed in silence. For she sensed that the gravity of the conversation was somewhat taunting and forced. She observed Cindy’s apprehensive glances all around the Ball Room floor and while she could not pin her reasoning, Estelle had a hankering about some affections between Cindy and another. Her knowledge was in depth and not easily acquired by one who held her station which was the same of all of the sister’s. While she hardly liked being attentive to the details of what appeared to be such a mediocre existence, it was practically unavoidable to ignore that by which you were defined. Estelle was content with her instincts and did not feel forced to join the conversation of the sisters because she was seeing a different aspect of them and of Cindelle in particular.

The festivities carried on well into the swells of morn. Cindelle had not been close to Winnard all that evening. Each of the sisters had a try at dancing with at least one of the brothers Sir Jeprey and Sir Lemore for moments at a time in an extravagant display of contredans of which everyone was in anticipation throughout the evening. Some waited anxiously while others rushed in more assuredly to display their talents at the most opportune time. The sisters danced until they were dizzy and were only seated for rest in brief intervals. After acquiring a taste of wine from the Wildemere’s vineyards even Cindy unwound to find more about the night to enjoy. Of course, holding the masks were the most challenging endeavor throughout the night. Trying not to revel too much of yourself precisely while creating a guise that would leave a lasting impression on all who encountered you was the aim for them all. Appeased by the affair the Brinbridge family they made their way back to their carriages accompanied by footmen and coachmen they made their way through dirt roads and cobble stone throughways that led them through the hazy dawn which warmed the redwoods and evergreens. They crossed the bridge, Danneker exhausted, and for the next week the manor fell silent. It slept except for at dinner which too was oddly quiet until they had all recovered lost rest and were restored to their dream and shared routines.

The Father of Damsels

Having acquired a great deal of knowledge from him she found herself admiring Winnard. He seemed secretive about something though that Cindelle could not quite figure out. She did not prod; instead, she waited. There were cold mornings when she sat on the chairs suspended in the air on the balcony. Most mornings she waited in darkness, but never in vain. For Winnard would appear eventually. Even if the words exchanged between them were few, she always felt it worth spending the first light of the morn with him. Strangely, she sensed that he had felt the same way about her. Always out before sunrise and then back inside the manor when the day poured in; no one seemed the least bit in notice of whether Cindy and Winnard were in the manor or out of it.

One evening after dinner Winnard and father met in his office space on the second level of the library. “I have wanted to share this with you for as long as I could remember. With you preparing to go off to the Manchester University I am confident that now is the time to impart this aspect of the Brinbridge legacy to you.” Father walked around his massive heavy wooden desk slowly. His shoes tapped the bare floor and then grew silent as he stepped onto the carpet that lined the place where he rested his feet when he sat. It was no different from the materials from which the rest of the furnishings in the manor were made. The scent of old books combined with that of fresh leather binders in Father’s collection was thick in the air. Winnard knew some of the story about the origins of his sisters, but he had no idea about the specifics. For the most part Father spent a lot of his time in his study, but from what he knew of Father in the past is that he used to spend more time in the lab than anywhere else. “Have a seat right there.” Father pointed to the chair opposite his in front of the desk. Winnard allowed his eyes to explore his father’s office. A world map, a goniometer, a large brown bears head posted on the wall to the left side of his office. That was from a friend of Grandfather’s who was an early taxidermist. There was a crystal ball on his desk which he used as a book end for a collection of Animalia Encyclopedias. A quill and ink, were held up by a heavy stone. Father had told Winnard the story of how it had been extracted from a meteor excavation in Germany and was given to his younger brother as a boy. Before his uncle, Leonard had departed to navigate the Aegean Sea and beyond he left this with his father. Father always felt as though his brother knew that he would not be returning from that voyage. These were remnants of the thoughts that Winnard sat and explored as he waited for father to reveal to him the secrets bound in the pages of a special journal. He was uncertain as to why father chose now to impart the information, but he was prepared to meet this true aspect of his father past, even if it appeared that it would be a darker aspect of his past than a son would desire to meet of his Father.

“There are names in this binder with which you are never to part,” Father said placing the black leather journal on the top of his desk finally after drawing it from a drawer or even beneath it perhaps. It was hidden as Father struggled with the place from where he withdrew the bound pages. “Your sister’s origins were for me to know and now they are for you to know as well. This however, is as far as this sensitive information should go. Should this come to unintended attentions it could be detrimental us all.” Father stood up from his desk and walked around to where Winnard sat. He had the book in his hands. He held it almost like one would hold his hands when saying a prayer except that the journal was wedged between them. Winnard could not tell if it was just in his mind but he thought that he observed his father’s hands tremor as he entrusted the contents to his son and transferred the journal to him.

“Father, I do not take on this knowledge of our legacy lightly. I will protect what secrets are bound within these pages.” Winnard was sincere in saying these words, although he had no idea as to the lengths that such a promise might require him to go.

Father folded one arm across his chest and the other hand rested thereon and with his pointing finger he thoughtfully touched his chin. His brow wrinkled. Fathers deep auburn hair almost the same color as his, but a shade lighter appeared to blow gently as though a gentle breeze came into the office. There was no way however, no open windows and no door. Winnard was sure that the door to the observatory would cause a wind to reach here even if it was opening just then in that moment. He relaxed back and held the journal in his lap with his hands over its cover.

“It’s your mother mostly who concerns me. She can never know. Delcia, just wouldn’t be able to handle this.” His father said this mostly to his himself more than to him. Still, he nodded his head and acknowledged his words.

“It’s safe with me Father.” Winnard stood up to revel that he nearly matched his father in stature. No doubt upon his return from the university this would be completely the rectified and he hoped to surpass the height of his father eventually. As for now he wanted to go back to his chambers. No meaning to show impatience, but he wanted to know what his father’s work was regarding the sisters. He’d want to know any way, but Winnard had designs of which he could not play out unless he knew that the full background of the Brinbridge daughters. Quietly, but audibly, he swore to himself. Jeremi’s hair did move as though by a gale or some other unobservable force. When Father asked what, the matter was however, Winnard just nodded his head and told him that he had just remember a task regarding some essays that needed his attention immediately. Jeremi was concerned, but chose to conceal it as best he with a silent sigh turned into the faintest smile that he could muster for the time being.

“I will see you at dinner tomorrow,” Father said as though it was more of a command than a salutation by which one might be dismissed. He turned on his heels and left his father’s office. He descended the spiraling wrought iron stair case that lead to the observatory. He walked through the library and then into the upper halls of the manor. He proceeded until he reached his chambers, and in there he sat down at his desk and read the journal until night fell and he needed the oil lamp to be lit by fire so that he could finish coming to know the contents of the secret works of his father.

In the chambers of an inhabitant at the opposite wing of the manor other clandestine affairs were building up. She had not intended to eavesdrop, but she could not help but over hear the exchanges between Father and Winnard earlier that day. What had Father wanted to keep as such a secret from Mother? Cindelle did not know, but she wanted to find out. The information pertained to her, and her sisters, she noted. One way or another she had it set in her mind that she would find out exactly what was the information.

Meanwhile, Winnard’s mind was in a whirlwind of feeling and new found emotion. Father’s journal was a host of information that dissolved his greatest fear. Aside from the aspect that he had turned the Brinbridge family into some huge scientific faire and namely just his sisters and his Mother, he learned that the feelings he experienced as a result of time spent within the presence of Cindelle was not as taboo as he had initially presumed. Hither to he had walked a fine line trying to manage the distance between he and Cindelle, but perhaps this management was not a mandate.

He learned that his mother wanted daughters and became ill with the notion that she might never bare one. They were still young lads when father found a way that would enable mother to have her wish granted. There were serums involved; sleeping serums, inhibitor serums that dulled pain, Mother underwent sessions where incisions had been made in her body. There were pictures of a woman’s nude body on a lab table and along with those pictures were recipes for concoctions that would put down mammals large as oxen. Drawings of tubes with small life in them that looked like small reptiles and then like baby chickens in their embryo form perhaps, and then you could see the development of something akin to the likeness of a human baby. Next to those diagrams and above them on shelves were the real specimen samples. The briary also referenced the scent of sulfuric acids which wafted heavily in the lab. The scientists name was Blaston Lavine, PhD. Father had allowed him to perform surgeries on mother that made her pregnancies inevitable and the offspring inevitably female for a cycle of 13 years. In the notes, it was referred to as testubular-fertilization. The pregnancies all began outside of the womb and were later implanted into mother after gestation was an imminent result. Initially, mother could not become pregnant with female children and then without her having the slightest proclivity to Father’s hand in her fate, she began to have a daughter almost every year. There was documentation about Delcia’s births and recoveries each time and the nurses on call around the clock and their notes about what this success did for Doctor Lavine’s research. It was unfathomable to Winnard, but somehow it was the cause of the heavily estrogenic aspect of his family. To think, his mother had no idea about how suddenly her heartbreak at each failing attempt to produce a daughter with Father was turned on its head and she then had more life to account for than she could manage alone. This is why Auntie Faelene was called to live at the manor. She had to help the girls grow. It was all coming together in his mind the story of his family and what was their true legacy. He began to understand the real notion behind what it meant for them to have a legacy. Since the journal contained concepts that had to be the deepest secrets of father’s heart, life and profession, Winnard began to think about the Journal as being more of a diary. Since it contents were contained within a black leather binding he began to refer to it as his father’s briary. He never would have guessed that it was one so laced with secrets. He fell asleep to uncoiling the notions bound in it and then he awoke again seated firmly at his desk ready to digest more information and prepared to combine more pieces to the story. The oil lamp had burned out and it appeared that Lolita had come in the midst of the morning to replenish the fuel therein. While the notions within the pages were heavy, his heart was made light at the fact that he might comfortably rejoice in the developments that were bound to come to pass between him and this feminine prowess that had held his heart in her hands, but whom he, up until then was unable to truly come to know. Here the designs of his imaginations began to take form, because henceforth he knew that there was space for such developments. Cindelle was yet uninformed about this new space that was unfurling to her.

She went out alone in the frost of a morning. It was unplanned and so Cindy imagined that she would be alone in the folds of bare trees in the orchard. She found her heaviest hooded pelt a light tone of prime rose and covered herself therein. White furs trimmed the hood of her covering and the muffs gloved her hands thwarting the bite of the frost. At first dawn was when Cindy could clear her head and fix her mind of the designs of her studies and the acme to which they would culminate in reference to knowledge the she had previously ascertained. She did this before the tutors would come to the manor for the day and more quietly in hopes that her conscience might be called to a private meeting with Winnard. Somehow the chill appeased her and eased the tensions within her, the origins of which she was unsure. She had not traveled too far from the manor when she saw a figure there in the distance. She could not put into words the feeling that overcame her at the notion that it might be who she wished for.

“What causes thee to arise at the chime of the dawning skies, that I might meet thee and greet ye in this fashion?” Winnard spoke in the voice of a roaring water as Cindelle approached him trudging through the snow.

“The grandeur of your station and the chisel of your chin assuages and beckons me here to where you are.” Cindelle smiled broadly, not hiding the delight that welled forth within her at the appearance of his curious and shinning face.

“Next to the snow hare who actually crossed me on the path to this place, you are the most breathtaking supposition of which nature has made a postulate this morn!”

She had been practicing so as not to be taken off her guard at whatever whelm or warmhearted notion Winnard tossed into the currents of her mind. In particularly high spirits he came in close to her space and surprised her. There was no way for her to be prepared for a meeting of her lips to his.

It was warm and moist and soft and rendered a feeling that was in complete contrast to the forces of the frost-ridden morning. She met his passion with fervent appeal. She lost track of what she might say to him and of what she meant to clear from her mind and of her studies. While her hands were tucked away in her fur muffs his hands, or at least one of his hands was tucked behind her head. It was intimate, his hand was within the warmth of her hood. She could feel his fingers in her hair pulling her closer to him therein. There was no language in audible frequencies that could communicate that which was transpiring between them at that moment. They kissed until they fell into the snow covered ground. He managed to unclasp her covering. It was heavy and broad like a blanket to his surprise. Cindy felt unloaded as the hem of her dress spread out about them and beneath them. He did not take his eyes off of her and he did not stop kissing her. Instead he let himself into her coverings and she did not give pause. For a moment they were suspended in heated passion that rendered both the snow and the cold non-existent. He too was heavily clothed and they both experienced the sweltering heat as they worked in tedium to be close to one another. They wanted to feel one another’s body but it became quickly obvious that it would not happen. They settled for what closeness they could achieve there in the open fields alone with the sound of birds mocking above them and the softest crunch of the cold powdery substance beneath them.

Winnard pulled back from kissing Cindelle briefly to ask her; “In the manner that we have done this can you see it again becoming at this time in another place?”

“Doth not these quarters please thee thane of my guarded heart?” Cindy said as she gazed up looking into his eyes, smiling to let him know that she knew his intentions.

They managed their first experience of intercourse there and then. They did not rush as he found her essence and was comforted within her. The initial pain of his entrance was nulled by his gentleness and focused caresses. When her tears fell she was relieved to unload the flooded emotion. He rocked her and she held onto him while they each came to know the other. Many thoughts of verbal expression rose to Cindelle’s mind, but she verbalized none and stifled the small sounds that were caught in her throat as best she could because she did not know what noise was suitable. Winnard made small utterances, but only one that Cindelle could make sense of and would always remember; “I will love you this way again and again.” He said this and then planted his lips firmly against hers once more, and then the flesh of their mouths parted. When he was replete of her upon climaxing he fell lifelessly beside her on the dry mound of snow. They stared into the clear diffused skies and then at one another for some time. When the sun finally broke through the clouds they took that as a sign to return to the routine at the manor.

“You leave now and then I will leave in a while. Your Maestro will be here sooner for your lessons.” Winnard reminded her as he wiped her face with his fingers removing fallen tears or strands of hair stuck to the perspiration coming from her forehead. She was not sure which, but she liked his touch.

She gathered her slips and skirts beneath her dress all about her and stood up with his help. He gathered her hooded cloak and covered her, sending her on her way to the path. He watched her until she disappeared over the slightest rolling hill that cut off his sight between the place where they laid and the anterior of their grand quarters. Only the pinnacle of the steeple that decorated the Observatory roof shone its silver shine like a sword standing on its hilt from where he looked on after her. He turned to cover himself and felt a trimmer of the season send a chill down his spine. He placed his hands in his pockets and turned on his heels to look out beyond the orchard in thought. He was delighted incomprehensibly. Mostly because his sister for whom he had fallen was not his sister. It was his secret to keep and wield as he saw fit. Winnard looked over to the redwoods and evergreens which stood tall and unmoving in the stillness of the thin air. Next, he followed his breath with his eyes as the humidity from him met with the crispness of the day. He paced several steps away from the base of the tree where they had lain and then he walked back. It was like a flash before his eyes when he noticed the crimson stain in the snow. The image burned into his mind, and then gently with the instep of his boot he shoveled over it with the snow. He waited a few moments longer and then he too turned toward the path and began to walk back.

Cindelle had entered the manor through the upper level doors without alerting anyone to her presence. She hurried off to her bedroom chambers swiftly, ignoring the mind numbing ache that she bore within what felt like the core of everything that comprised her being. She wanted to rest, but she knew that her lessons would begin soon. She decided to change her dress. Her soiled clothes she threw together in a heap near the chest at the foot board of her bed. She used the pail of water to dab her face clean of any smudges and was careful not to taint the basin with her blood. She removed as much of the evidence of what had transpired as she could and dressed herself and brushed her hair. For fear that Lolita would enter her room and find her clothes soiled she decided to get rid of them. In the lowest level of the manor there was an inferno that was always roaring. She placed her clothes into a basket and planned to ascend there. She walked over to her window and pulled back the tapestry to let light into her room and to see what parts of the orchard she could from her eastern placed window facing the vast courtyard below and the west wing. There was no motion that she detected. Cindy decided to leave the curtains slightly gaped. She checked her reflection in the mirror at her vanity. She tucked her dark tendrils behind both ears, secured her bonnet with a hair pin and then took up the basket in her arms to begin her journey to the sublevel. She made it down the hall from her chambers without pause, but was met with Gilda and Hyde at the stair case that led down into the common room. They were coming in from a morning excursion it appeared.

“Cindelle are you going out on a picnic? Let me assure you that the frost is bitter and that you should save the occasion for a milder day.” Gilda suggested looking to and fro at Cindy’s face and then to the basket again.

“She is not dressed to go outside in the least sense Gilda. Cindy is not going on a picnic.” Hyde intervened and said in a bright but pitchy voice. The sisters both stepped up to the landing where Cindy was trying to walked down and they stood about her a moment. Her heart fluttered and she was sure that the feverish feeling was become an apparent tint in her cheeks.

“I am accomplishing a task that will assist Lolita. Has she appeared to either of you this morning?” Cindy held the basket out to them briefly and then pulled it back to herself again without offering to open its contents.

The sister’s glanced at one another.

“No, not today,” Hyde said.

“You will want to check the linen room near the cellar of the pantry,” Gilda directed her and pointed down the stairs toward the kitchen.

“Yes, I will do just that. Were you coming in from collecting your seasonal delights?”

Hyde and Gilda smiled at one another and nodded in admittance.

“We found a sparrow’s nest.” Gilda was always excited to share their explorations.

“Yes but the eggs were frozen and partially chipped and so we left it.” Hyde chimed in.

“Next, we came across a white hare and its borough. It gave us a show briefly, but then it disappeared.” Gilda finished saying.

“Yes, but we must be off to our studies. Magdelene is assisting with the tutors today and Kaitlyn is sharing some of her papers with us.

“I will join you as soon as I am able,” Cindelle said assuring them.

They all curtsied slightly and went off on their separate ways. From there Cindelle was able to descend down to the main halls. She walked through the kitchen where no staff seemed to notice her in the slightest. She went into the pantry where at the back wall was a door that would let her into the lower level of the manor here the furnace burned hot by coal. The heat was sweltering. To avoid the wicker basket from instant combustion she settled it at the bottom of the steps as far away from the furnace as possible. She walked over to the cast iron doors and used an iron rod to open it. She placed the clothing on the floor one piece at a time, seeing her essence in them and smelling his essence as it was mingled with hers. The heat was sweltering and she could not deliberate long. She grabbed a pair of tongues that hung on the wall with all tools pertaining to the furnace. With them she clasped each article and placed them into the fire. In the end after it was emptied of its contents, she decided to also cast the wicker basket into the furnace. She could only stand to watch the flames for an instant before she had to use the iron rod to close its doors again to protect herself from the sweltering heat. Cindelle walked across the floor of the cellar and glanced once over her shoulder to make sure the floor was clear. It was clear and with this she was satisfied. Unsuspectingly, when she returned to the pantry she was met there by Lolita who upon witnessing the sweat of her brow began to question her.

“Mistrrress! What arrre you doing in these parrrts?” Her thick Romanian accent caused the r’s in her speech to roll and resound deeply. “You cannot be herrrre! Too dangerous for you Mistress, please! Your Father will make rrroast out of me!”

“Oh, I was looking to meet you Lolita. I’d like for you to change the tapestry in my bedroom chambers. The dust is causing me to have an adverse reaction.”

Her attention was averted from Cindelle’s appearance for the time being. “Yes Cindella I will get to this right away. I have to visit Lady Delcia in the sitting room and then I will take care of your space. Ok? You do not think about it and you do not go in cellar for me! Too dangerous and hot!”

“Much oblige and I beg your pardon Lolita. You have my word. I will not descend into the cellars to seek you again.”

Cindelle bowed her head and moved past Lolita whose attention was averted to something through another entrance in the pantry which led to the linen closet. She slipped past the person’s preparing food while having quiet conversations and returned to her room to fix her appearance once more before tending to her studies for the day. Concentration proved to be difficult, but Cindelle knew the repercussions of allowing her focus to slip and therefore she successfully steadied her mind as she learned about the histories of the Isles of Crete. It was two weeks later that season when the twines by which the fabric of that which had been building came undone. We had met twice more since the first time that it happened. Each time we met at the same barked pillar that bore no fruits in the cold season. We shared quiet exchanges of our thoughts for brief moments and then we touched lips and did not part for a long while. Winnard had found a place where we could meet within the walls of our compound; a place that was warm and secluded. He drew a functional map that directed me there.

It was a room that no one used at the upper western wing of the manor. It was designed like Father’s office with a winding wrought iron staircase that ascended up to a closed off room. I have never visited this room nor did I know it was in the manor. White linens covered everything there in. There was no light being in let because the tapestries were drawn shut. Only by the light of their lantern could they observe their surroundings. There were stone statues, ancient furnishings, and a collection of string instruments beneath some of the coverings, Cindelle had investigated briefly. Winnard stood near the walls after closing the door gently behind him with his hands in his breeches while shifting his weight from one foot to the other as she looked around.

“I come here to think when I design plans about how I will keep the manor and our legacy when it is my time. I plan the discourses that are appropriate for Father’s dinners and when I do not feel comforted in my custom chambers.”

With this sharing Cindelle looked over to Winnard and felt closer to him immediately. She went to him and he moved toward her simultaneously. They sat together and laid in an entanglement of one another’s arms for hours at dawn up until they had to depart for lessons. The passionate kiss made it difficult to part, but it was necessary if they were to maintain the quiet connection between them. Although they were intimate only twice more beyond the first encounter, to Cindelle it felt like they had been together for a life time beyond their years. Winnard appeared to share in the feeling, but he never said so. The later times when he might have told her never came. On the fated evening when she had to depart; it was an evening that could not be planned for.

Voyage to Anoona

My trunks were packed and Auntie along with Fraisdale and Lolita were the ones who saw me to the ship. Mother and Father were informed of my departure, but nothing was made clear to me as to the arrangements of my voyage except that I was leaving the manor. None of my sisters were in the main hall when I left. In fact, the manor fell quiet as if all were asleep. Only Dafton stepped forward from the dining hall just before my final summon to join the company of the carriage that awaited me that evening. Auntie stood beside me; a look of fierceness in her eyes and straight tight lips. In that moment when I saw my brother I knew that I only had one opportunity to inform Winnard. As Auntie Faelene moved from my side to watch as they loaded the last of my belonging which were to be hauled away I was able to make a dash over to him. “Dafton! The place where we last met!” Cindy’s voice strained in a loud whisper. Her tears were running down her cheeks which were rosy with exhaustion, sheer mortification, and grief. “Will you tell him to find it there before the frost leaves and the ink begins to run?” Auntie had dashed over to her quickly and even Fraisdale had returned to physically assist her with removing me from the manor. “Please tell him!” Cindy said this as clearly as she could manage above her strangled cry. Cindy searched his face for a response and strained to listen as she was restrained. The moment appeared to stretch into eternity, but then the slightest reprieve came; Dafton paused at the foot of the grand staircase and with a depth in his voice that she had never heard before from her brother, he responded. “On my honor Cindelle,” he said.

Upon hearing his words, Cindelle gave into the struggle and was carried off to the carriage. They would take her to the ship and from there Cindelle’s voyage would be her own. Into the night she would travel with beautiful strangers covered in layered garments and fine clothes to a place that she could not imagine.

Chapter 6- Chromatic Compass

Cindelle

He was born the in the warm season that followed. In my 16th year Daiveon Jeremi Brinbridge joined my life in the world outside of my small womb which was not so small any longer. I gave him my Father’s name to insurrect a feeling of connection to the family who promised to send for me. No word had yet come however to bring us home. I received no promise that they would send for us soon either. At my new home there were tutors and a head maestra and a small school of emergent women. They called us emergent because all of the women at the school were young and at questionable stages of development for making successful deliveries. Greptinsus Isle is where it was located just north of Anoona. I was about three to four days voyage from Danneker here. The cold season was longer that the warm one. The spring is but a short time. Daiveon arrived just as the warm earth was budding a new. I nearly paid with my life to bring him into the world. I was struck with fever for several days after he was born during which time another emergent mother had to supply him suckle. Quickly though was my recovery and I was able to resume my duties to him. New lessons began within one months’ time after his birth. We learned the nature of sculpting the physic and binding as a means of health education. This was followed up with letter writing and candle making and minor measurement courses which were the arithmetic that would help us mend clothes for ourselves and our offspring. At the tie I was unaware as to what my life might become. I dreamed about Winnard often and wondered what he knew of the circumstances surrounding my disappearance from the manor. I also wondered how his studies were coming along, for I knew nothing of his decision to stay in Danneker and support the cause of the patriarch’s versus traveling abroad to explore his dream. It would be a long time yet before we found out.

Estelle

To make mention of my discoveries on that morning was forbidden at the manor. Cindelle had not been seen in the manor since that day and no word had been spoken of her by anyone that I could observe. As the winter freeze melted into a season of budding foliage and colors new, I found myself questioning if she ever existed at all. At times I even thought her presence had been imaginary. At the rise of the mention of her name the very nature of my surroundings seems to extend away from me. Even when the sisters spoke about the Wildemere’s Masquerade Ball they seemed to conveniently leave out any information pertaining to the slightest remembrance of our sister Cindelle. Plans were going as presumed at the Brinbridge estate. Winnard was preparing to attend a university in the America’s this season, and Magdelene would be leaving to attend Governess School soon after. Our numbers at the manor were dwindling with increased frequency. I watched times and noted to myself, but aside from my studies, observation was all that I could manage.

We all lined up at the entrance of the manor to say our salutations to Winnard. Mother cried and Kaitlyn handed her a handkerchief to catch her tears. It was as though his departure was sprung upon her. “Jeremi for how long is this dissention?”

“Why do you see it this way? He will return all the better for the expedition, my love.”

These were the words exchanged between Mother and Father as Winnard prepared to leave the Manor. He would be away for three seasons compounded. His journey would be across seas to another continent; my understanding of which was vastly different from our own. “What would Winnard be like when he returned?” I thought. Perhaps it was too early to ponder. We, the sisters and Dafton all stood together in a row to see him off. He bowed and Dafton bowed to him as the sister’s gave a curtsy. Dafton exchange quiet words with Dafton and that was it. He departed and we would not see him for a long while yet.

Father tended to Mother and they set off on their way to a place within the manor. It was a Saturn’s-day when there were no classes and the sisters and I could engage in whatever we liked. Hyde and Gilda stuck to their routine. No matter the season they always chose to forage for the eggs of perches or for berries. Helen was reserved and only spoke when pertinent to a matter at hand; second only to Magdelene in manners of all that is feminine, and to both her and Kaitlyn in feminine beauty, she set off on her own to the common room to read for her enjoyment. Helen however had an appeal that was her very own. Her uniqueness as I came to refer to it over time would afford her a great fortune, one separate from and even grander than the one designed for her.

Dafton often had activities outside of the manor. We sisters were not privy to many of them, but he departed soon after Winnard that day to prepare for a fencing practice as his attire informed. The younger sisters were catered to by the workers at the manor and were always tended to. I retreated to my chambers to record my thoughts about the day and to ponder possible future events that might be unfolding.

Winnard

An apprentice at the university met me at the dockings. It took several days to cross the Atlantic. It was morning when first I stepped ashore American soil. There was much bustle with which to contend and a disparaging survey of populace. There were one’s who dressed as lords, ones who were beggars, and a fascinating array of cultured people who scathed the scales in between where I could not easily come to a conclusion regarding their station.

Winnard unloaded his trunks onto the dock. Gulls flew in the skies overhead and squawked their songs. The apprentices’ name was George Palmer. He was the understudy of a Master Architect at the Clavlier University. Very quick to offer his assistance and a little nervous upon presenting himself Winnard thought as he sized him up. He wore a light beige shirt with a collar and suspenders. Khaki colored pants and a hat a few shades darker.

“The coach is just beyond the board walk.” He said tucking away his sign upon which Winnard’s name and the University was written. Winnard had stepped upon the coast of the eastern shores of North America. A town called New Denswick. There was activity for as far as he could see as he scoped the docks.

“Here you are. Let me help you with these cases.” George said as he bent forward to load the trunks onto a cart.

Winnard too was dresses in a button up shirt and breeches. His sleeves were short and he could feel the off shore breeze through its material.

“Thank you. So are you a native here or just attending the University?” Winnard asked beginning the conversation earlier to get a feel for the fellow with whom he would be journeying for the next hour or so.

“I am a native of the states, but my home is closer to the Pacific coasts. I decided to attend school here to be independent. I have a lot of family where I am from. Do you have a lot of family back in your country?”

Winnard thought for a moment about his family, the secrets and the briary, but he did not give pause. Instead he thought about a photo where they were all together on the front grounds of the manor back at home. The image became clear quickly in his mind and then he responded.

“I do in fact. I am the eldest of 12 siblings. I come from a line of merchants and scientists. I am here because I do not plan on being an extension in either of those practices.”

They left the docks and now began to walk across the board walk. There were sand dunes just outside of the roped gates for miles. They were traveling a short distance crosswise however and so Winnard took in what sights he could of the beaches remnants but he decided that he would have to visit the boarding docks another time to explore the sights.

“I see.” George said. “Well, the coach is just beyond the firebrick building there. It’s a fair town with good architecture I’m sure you’ve heard. Nothing compared to the great structures in your lands I am sure. Perhaps you will be instructing here just as much as you will be receiving instruction,” he complimented Winnard.

“Yes, well it is true that the architecture here is later. But I am here to learn the infrastructure of modernity as well.”

“It will be classic modernity, but I suppose that you will receive the lessons that you seek.” He stopped walking as they had arrived to their coach. “Here we are.” He stood aside and directed Winnard’s attention to their ride.

They arrived to the university with plenty of daylight to spare. There were others arriving as well. George accompanied Winnard to his quarters in the dormitory. A modest living quarter. Winnard decided that he would get as settled there as he could and then he would explore the grounds and learn more about the place where he was staying.

“The touring of the grounds will be held tomorrow morning before you get your list of classes and suchness. I will let you get settled and then I will invite you to my dormitory so that you can see where you stay in your second year here and you will be able to access me should you need to. They both stood facing each other with their hands in their pockets. Next, they extended their hands and shook in agreement.

“Welcome to Clavlier.” George smiled and stood firmly for a moment before turning on his heels and leaving Winnard to become acquainted with his new space.

He studied there for three years and so it was 12 seasons before he voyaged home again. He wrote to Father and Father often returned a letter updating him about the affairs of the family and plans that Auntie Faelene prepared for them.

There were times when he pondered Cindelle. She was his first exploration of novel emotion father called it one day when he was still at home. “She does not know herself because she is not rooted as you are.”

“They are real though Father, are they not? Capable of true expression and deriving culminating notions?”

After he had read the Briary he had one final conversation with Father regarding its contents. He wanted to have a final word about Father’s expectations and his vision for the legacy of their name. Upon receipt of his acceptance letters to his choice universities appeared to be the most opportune time for these exchanges.

Son, they are for your mother. They will eventually fly away from the nest and join the likes of other names. That is their nature.” Father explained with a flat affect. “I mean, can you tell me that you genuinely feel emotion toward them?”

The way his Father spoke was cold and caused Winnard to feel it necessary to express less than his true feelings. Jeremi stared into his sons face searchingly. He had a sense for what had transpired, but was not in the least prepared to objectify his son given the circumstances.

“No, Father. I often wondered why. Thanks to your effusive and complex note note-taking, now I am made fully aware.”

Jeremi’s face was relieved, his tense muscles fell lax again as they stood in Fathers office that day. Winnard was surprised when he made it out of Fathers office without the depth of scrutiny for which he was prepared. Father only asked him to finalize his choice place of study. When Clavlier was decided upon their meeting was finished. Winnard never let his Father know his feelings thereafter. He realized that the test of Jeremi’s judgement was far too steep as compared to the promise of a future that was bountiful at the estate.

Within the first year Winnard learned via courier that the sister’s had successfully coaxed Mother into one of their forest walks to acquire the season’s catch. Gilda and Hyde were no doubt delighted. Magdelene had boarded a ship to governess school. And in his second year he learn that Helen had been betrothed to one of the Wildemere nephew’s, Sir Lemore who had reportedly grown quite fond of her since the Masquerade the prior year. There was no word about Kaitlyn he noted. Nothing of Dafton and his role in Winnards absence, and nothing about the younger sisters. He did note however that the Brinbridge name would most assuredly become knit with that of another family in the borough of Danneker waters.

He often avoided thoughts about Cindelle while studying abroad. He knew that he loved her and that Father would find this unacceptable. He vowed to himself however that he would not be with another woman, particularly not an American woman although he had yet to formulate an opinion on them as a whole. When Father wrote nothing of her via his correspondence he knew that what was present between him and Cindelle was theirs alone. Rather, Winnard delved deeply into his studies. He learned of all things pertaining to modern architecture; from foundations and materials, to drawing models and blueprints, to the proper carbon papers upon which to appropriate them. Some learned architecture as a trade. He, however was acquiring degree for the effect of improving his family’s legacy, and he was advertently prudent in doing so for the cause of his heritage.

When he returned home in four years’ time he was well learned in his area of study, steeped in experiences of American culture, and curious to take back to his family all that he’d become so that he might begin to move into his position as controller of the manor and Brinbridge affairs. Finished in three years, he had stayed an extra year at Clavlier University to take on an understudy. The young apprentice was one especially interested in the scaffolding of Mesopotamian structures and it turned out that this place close to the regions in which Winnard grew up was his area of expertise. Although America proved to be a place in great awe of the ancient buildings of the lands of his origins, due to merchant opportunities that this foreign country opened up to his people via their new world practices, there were industrial prospects of their architectural education that were indispensable. So he taught the young man a prescribed itinerary forged by the university board before returning to his home land. Pleased with his educational experience he planned to sail home again in the autumn season where upon he would graduate.

Chapter 7- Homebound

Winnard was in great anticipation of returning home with all of his newly acquired knowledge upon completion of his studies. When he did things initially commenced in the way that he was prior to accustomed. The first evening dinner was a celebration. The meal prepared was like that of a banquet. Father brought in a fiddler to play as we ate the first evening. And there was a play put on in the Galla Room by Magdelene’s students recounting a history lesson given to Alexander the Great in the year 343BC. Where upon a small boy acted as the great Aristotle who tutored Alexander. Winnard was thoroughly entertained when at the plays end the youngling quoted his pointed philosophical travesty “That the men whose reputation for wisdom stood highest were nearly the most lacking in it, while others who were looked down upon as common people were much more intelligent.” They all cheered and joyously received Sir Winnard Brinbridge back at the manor of their homeland. But the schedule resumed as Father’s usual soon after. Something was changed, however when he arrived. It was something that let him know that stepping up into his position was not going to be as simple a process as he’d anticipated. For the first few days enjoying his return home was everything that he had hoped for. For the first week even, but as usual things were more than appearances, and he soon learned that he was not the only one with expectations and he was not the only one hoping.

For there was another evening that followed where the intentions of some that were previously dormant were indeed revealed.

He was not home for 2 seasons before he began to notice that there were changes in their familial structure and the conducting of their routinized affairs. Magdelene now held classes at the manor for young Mistresses and Ladies on a weekly basis in etiquette and engagement practices. Helen was planning for a spring wedding to Sir Lemore Wildemere, who now formally had a setting at dinner. Finally, he noticed that the place where Cindelle sat was being usurped. For that extra setting at the table where his Cindelle once sat began to be graced by the presence of another. In an effort to defend the likeness of their traditions Winnard decided to speak.

They had all entered the dining hall and were preparing to be seated when Winnard saw her. He could not decide if she looked enchanted or had the likeness of a beautiful witch, but he could not contain himself and commented immediately after being seated.

“Auntie Faelene, I find your proclivity for procuring new guests at our dinner staggeringly appropriate,” Winnard stated before quickly turning his attention to Dafton who was already on his feet pulling back the chair for the inconsequential beauty who accompanied Auntie into the dining hall that evening.

Ajita Clarion Bredaeus, Countress from a family north of Danneker from a borough of which he knew but was not very familiar. It was because her origins were of an Isle that was off land and lined the coast of the Agean sea.

“Please pardon. I do hope that my presence in your home does not in the least offend. It was Lady Dovencus (Auntie Faelene and the surname of Delcia before her marriage to the Brinbridge) who invited me here to observe your customs. She speaks very highly of you with regards to your studies and travels. I too have recently returned from traveling abroad. My travels of course were not in the capacity of educational enrichment, but rather in humanitarian affairs.” Countess Ajita was being seated as she said this. She picked up her cloth napkin and placed it into her lap. Again he thought about Cindelle.

“It is not often that we are graced with the presence of someone of your statuesque Madame, if I may say so.” Winnard was surprised to have a conversation with a woman at all. Let alone in his home and at the dinner table with his family. Surprised at his own compliment, he paused and sipped his glass before resuming dialogue.

“You may say so with one correction. I am Countess Ajita Clarion Bredaeus, not a Madame. Still, you may choose the way by which you call unto me if your custom will allow this.”

Auntie was nodding her head between the intervals where they spoke. Father listened attentively. Even Mother sat taller in her seat, as though it would help her hear the conversation better. Winnard realizing that he was not the sole carrier of the conversation this evening tuned into the expectation of the entertainment of the affair that evening. Unplanned expectations of colloquial engagement between him, and the Countess. He was not accustomed to dinner in this manner. Yet the impact of his actions, and the weight had just caught up to him.

“Do your people speak so loosely where you are from?”

“By my people, do you mean women? Have I spoken out of turn?”

Just as he was about to answer Fraisdale entered the room with trays full of dinner delights.

“Oh my, what a spectacular selection you’ve prepared for us!” Auntie Faelene said cheerfully, convincingly even.

The younger sisters were maturing, but still they did not participate much in showing attention to details of conversations that went on around them. Dafton sat with his arms folded and appeared to actually be paying attention to the conversation. Father set his dinnerware straighter than it was already. Winnard decided in himself that Ajita would probably be a more suitable match for Dafton. In fact he decided that she was there for him and that he was just inserting himself into the exchanges before they could become better acquainted.

“Do you take delight in creation of affairs that contrast the straight markers that have been set for us as foundations with our people who were here before us?” Winnard looked at Dafton, and then paused to give him the opportunity to respond.

“No people are people without those prior demarcations, I suppose. Though, I can assure you that to make reference to one’s name properly reinforces the intentions of our forefathers.”

“I will refer to you as Countess since you have deemed yourself so, and I will settle the matter of you there. Suitable, no?” Winnard asked her while raising his brow in the direction of his brother once more.

“I might return the same appropriation to you Viscount Brinbridge should you insist upon it?”

“If formalities are your practice, then that will be very appropriate.”

Conversations ceased for a while there in. Countess Ajita spoke no more that evening without first being addressed directly. Dafton seemed just as pleased with her presence at the long table as he was with his meal. Winnard thought about Cindelle and tried to press the notion of her being lost out of his mind. He had dreamt for a long time about the memories of resting with her. They were far gone now, but somehow the letter returned the situation current again. They made it through dinner that night and Countess Ajita appeared several times again throughout the season. There was talk in the manor of her assisting Helen and Sir Le’more with the wedding in the coming spring. Father was able to use Winnard’s skills for some of his former merchant associates who sought to expand the brick and mortar aspects of their grounds, there businesses, many at the boarders of the sea coasts. He was busy straight through the frost season with his family’s preparations for the coming spring and his own business endeavors.

He was unable to come to a conclusion as to how to proceed in matters pertaining to his lost Cindelle. Realizing that there was no place to turn in search of her he turned his thoughts inward and secretly kept them tucked away in a place in his mind and heart that stayed gone for most of every day and only crept out in the darkness of night sometimes.

In the spring that followed there was the promise of many events that would cause the socialization of the Brinbridge’s with other families in the borough. The Sisters were all busy with making selections of fabrics and being fitted for dresses. Helen consulted Winnard briefly about erecting a pavilion in honor of the coming together of the Brinbridge’s with the Wildemere’s family. She reasoned that it would be able to be utilized for the occasion of many other future functions should the opportunities come to the manor in the future. Winnard saw it as a chance to make improvements therein and to truly make a mark that showed his talents acquired from abroad. Time ran short and he realized that it would not be completed in time for Helen’s enjoinment with Sir Le’more. Still, they mentioned the intention of the gesture at the affair that was their union. Some of the guests and new family even chose to peer in and see its developments during the festivities and celebration afterwards. The pavilion however, was not the only design in the making.

“Your plans are spectacular Count Brinbridge.” It was Countess Ajita who found him standing nearby his work in progress. She said this to him admiringly. He could not ignore the look of adoration on her face.

“It is coming along according to plans. I only wish that my sister, the newest Lady Wildemere, had the idea earlier. It might have been complete for this occasion.”

“Yes. It is not often that we come by the opportunity to see the process of works. I count it as an addition to the artful qualities in the manor. The remarkable oil painting in your library of the Bridge Danneker is particularly fascinating,” Ajita said.

“They have been in the family for almost a century it is my understanding. I have watched that painting since I can remember. It does have a striking quality.”

She stood before him draped in lavish layers of a dress where the lace appeared to glimmer by the light of the sun. Her lips were like rubies and her eye’s the color of spearmint he thought to himself.

“By plans did you mean that you actually know how this will look when you complete it?”

“Well of course. Any student of architectural culture can envision his works complete.”

“So you have a map of the pavilion then?”

Winnard was taken aback by her steady interest in his works. He tried to steer away in his mind from carrying on further with her inquiries, but was unable to do so.

“Would you be willing to show me your print?”

Winnard looked down at his shoes and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He was not sure how he felt about her inquiry, but he saw the glass in her hand when he looked up again. He reasoned that intoxication was the cause for her relaxed modus. He decided that he would entertain thought with her after all.

“Would you mind accompanying me over to the fountain where I may pour a glass for myself? Then I may show you my print, as you called it, Countess Ajita.” He smiled, surprising himself with his congenial response.

She put her arm out in anticipation that he might take hold of it. He did, and they walked together across the courtyard abuzz with activity and conversations and light laughter. There was at least 200 guests at the manor that day. The service of the house managed the affair with seamless ease. Winnard took Countess Ajita Clarion into the manor where upon he revealed for the first time his office quarters where he did most of his work. It was a fair sized room just off side of the Galla room that was also filled with the likes of guests.

“Normally there is no activity here and my office is quite. Please pardon the noise.” He stepped into his office and closed the door behind them. He had some plans drawn up on his walls and some sketches from his studies in America. Behind his desk on the wall was hung his favorite piece that he had created by far on blueprint. It was the plan for an industrial building at the central meeting hall in a major city. The concept was very American and was a concept that took time for him to cultivate because he was used to the constructs of his culture which had a flair quite unlike that of American building plans. The rest of his drawings were bound in bands and oblong cylinders. Some on his desks and others on a nearby table. Winnard had arranged them according to era, materials, and location. His plans to make amendments to the lands belonging to private merchants were grouped together. Plans that he’d made for public merchants were grouped together, and merchants who made special orders for specified structures were grouped elsewhere.

Ajita looked around his office in amazement. “My travels have taken me many places around the world, but I have never had the pleasure of coming to know the works of an architect up close.” She walked around his desk and looked closer. “There are so many lines. This is truly remarkable.” She said observing the molds and carvings indicated in the drawing. She had planned to have a look at the pavilion plans, but she did not even imagine that he held treasurable thoughts such as these. She thought him to be rather boar headed and even callus upon their initial meetings. Most children of the masters of the estates were; in her opinion and according to her experiences. She saw him in a different light on that day. Ajita Clarion had not had such expectations. Never mind the fact that Winnard had surpassed those.

They talked about his studies abroad and he endeavored to ask her about her humanitarian works which she’d alluded to, but never spoke about in depth. He found that she favored the practices of the patriarchy at home in her youth, but that as she began to learn of the effects of such practices on burgeoning cultures and even established cultures she changed her view point. She had traveled to Asia Minor as she approached adulthood and later to the northern tip of Africa. Her Father was a Coronal in the militia her entire life and so she was afforded such traveling opportunities from early on, as she explained to him; “Upon observing the travesties that could be caused by schools of thought alone propelled me to want to give aid where ever I saw its effects. It appeared to be a matter of informing people more than anything else. I saw their spirits fed, their souls seemed to come to life many times just by guiding attention.” Winnard listened. He found her unique experience comforting to hear and her company a new and rather enjoyable experience.

After his sister’s wedding that spring the developments between Winnard and Ajita were evident. Father expected her at the dinner table and even appeared to have an appreciation for her presence there. She shared stories of her travels that for the first time drew the younger sisters; Phrancis, Jollie, and Ladine into conversation. They were dazzled by her stories of living on a ship for months upon months at a time. Winnard was pleased with his life and decided that it was time to settle his heart. The phase of courting had evidently already occurred.

He knocked on his father’s office door. It creaked open slowly.

“Yes,” Father answered. Winnard entered and was surprised to see his brother Dafton standing there with him. At first he was startled because he had not expected his brother to be present for this conference. He saw it as an opportunity of cohesion of the bond between them and he therefore continued.

“You too might stay to hear this Dafton as it pertains to matters of the family. Father, do you have a moment to speak with me concerning an issue of importance?”

“Yes of course, what seems to be the matter?”

Father was standing at his desk with his looking glass to his eye peering down at a paper with a light behind it. Some small script on a geographic pictorial, Winnard saw. Dafton was there looking as well.

Briefly his thoughts went to his father’s briary. When they had exchanged the bound pages all of those years ago, the repercussions had come to proportions that Winnard could hardly imagine, and hoped that he would never have to reveal to his father. However, he was his father’s son and he now bore a secret, terrible just the same. He was not so willing to share the surreptitious details of his personal legacy in the making with Jeremi, however. As far as Winnard was concerned there was no proof that anything had happened then that would matter now. Only the feeling that he recalled when he laid with her and the warm memories of her quivering in his arms after they had been together those many years ago. Just like the day when the details about his family were passed down to him and his heart was pounding; so it was pounding all the more now. When he thought about it to this day the same feeling came over him. He shook the thought for the sake of this conversation and the weight of the matter with which he was presently toiling.

He sat down in the same leather seat opposite his father’s desk. Father had been standing, but chose to sit in response to observing Winnard’s manner. Dafton stood and listened.

“I am considering wedding Countess Clarion.” He decided that his proposition should be stronger. “I want to ask for her hand.”

Father sat back in his seat and rubbed his chin. Jeremi knew about Faelene’s plans, but he had no idea that things would go this well. Winnard had actually taken to liking the Countess Clarion. Jeremi settled his anticipation and knew that he had to pace himself with such news. “Winnard must be preparing for this quickly as the youth often do when they get an idea. I must caution him.” He still thought to himself. His sons awaited a reply; searched his face for a grimace or a sign of approval, Winnard did.

It worked, and Jeremi was surprised at the plans designed by his mother-in-law, but he pulled his attention back to his son at once to present his thoughts.

“If you were not sure, I suppose that you would not have brought this to me this day?” He said it as though it was a question.

“Yes, Father this is true.”

They let the moment settle and then Father spoke again.

“Well son, you have my blessing. I will send courier to both the Pritipitus Isle where her people have settled, and to the Northern region to inform them of your decision. First, however, there is a voyage that we must accomplish before this annual has come to a close.” Jeremi did not smile. Dafton could tell by the way that Jeremi had turned his attention to him that he was being written out of this quest. He pushed his feelings of fury down deep. After all he was the one who had studied by his Father’s side for the duration of Winnard’s educational endorsement away from all of his responsibilities at the manor. He was away, and Dafton stood by Father and clung to his every word; learning all that he could from him. And he could sense it then that he was going to be left to stand on his own as securer of the manor.

As he reflected, his feelings about what was unfolding changed. Instead of seeing the quest as a measure of his father turning against him in favor of his eldest, he saw it rather as an opportunity. It was a test whereby he would be forced to display his competence acquired as a mark of entering into manhood.

“Merchants Father?” Winnard understood immediately. Dafton’s attention was snapped back into Father’s office. Winnard was thinking about the quest in almost the same regard as Dafton. It was a test of the strength of their bond. He should have known that Father would not turn the manor over to him that easily. He was prepared, he felt, for whatever Father had prepared for him.

Winnard could sense the feeling that his father was pleased with this choice, but it was going to take more than that. It was a political arrangement that would extend the roots of their heritage and it was not merely an arrangement, but his son had come to it on his own so he thought. He was very happy indeed. Dafton, however, showed signs of resignation. His forehead wrinkled and his face seemed contorted when Winnard glanced up into his face.

“Brother, doth not thee approve? Do I not have your blessing where upon I have made my selection to be wed?” Winnard leaned forward in his seat as though it would allow him to hear his brother better upon his response. He made eye contact with him and then with Father.

Dafton shoved his hand in his pockets and tilted his head slightly to one side and spoke directly to his brother. The tension in his voice was both heard and felt. Jeremi looked on between them to and fro for a moment before deciding to settle his eyes on Winnard once more.

“My approval in your choice is not the where my mind finds the interference, brother.”

“Why then is your affect so contorted? It conveys meaning. You do not approve!” Winnard heard his voice rise a bit. He was surprised anytime that Dafton had an opinion which in his general observation of his brother was not often enough to bear this much regard, however, this caused Winnard concern.

He was unsure about some aspect of Winnards life. He even questioned his brother’s character at the present moment. He did not wish to draw unto him the attention of their Father right then. Dafton decided to become cheerful and proclaimed;

“Brother, the matter is unrelated to this wonderful news with which you have just parted. Let me assure you that at another time the nature of my disposition will be made clearer unto you and it is with respects to a….” Dafton paused briefly searching for the words. “Another situation… whereby I will address you.” Dafton left off.

Winnard saw that his father’s affect was changed from one of approbation to a most opprobrious expression.

“Well then as planned,” Winnard recovered his train of thoughts quickly to appease the moment. “I will present the idea to her when next we meet. She thinks with her mind Father and she has experienced the world in a way that I had not considered.” He turned and acknowledged this to his brother as well.

“And so I want to let her know what I am planning.” Winnard wanted his father to share in his perspective of her depth, but it was a futile attempt. Jeremi’s interests were otherwise and Winnard knew what they were.

He left with a feeling of conviction about his decision that morning and set about his plans, as did his Father. Although, not before Dafton caught up to him beckoning him to follow and come to the Library. They were just outside of earshot of Jeremi.

“What ails thee? I have never seen a more reproachful expression.”

Dafton moved in close to his brother. They stood just before the double glass doors of the Observatory. The light of the mid-day poured in through the doors and the atrium overhead. They squinted as they spoke to one another.

“Brother, I have never had the time nor the courage to talk to you about what happened that night.”

“What night Dafton? To what are you making reference?”

“It was disturbing brother. I mean, she was crying and yelling and no one was around. It was many years ago, yet I still remember every detail.” Dafton walked over to place his hands on a chair in the observatory. One with a particularly high back. “They grabbed her so forcefully. She was small and her face was fiery and her voice fierce. They shoved her into the coach. She screamed, but no one was around Winnard.”

Dafton’s voice cringed as he recounted the details.

“I heard unusual hurry in the manor that evening. No plans had been announced and so I waited in the dining hall. I waited until I heard the sound of a struggle and the faintest whimper. Then I walked out to see the place from whence it came.”

“Cindelle?” Winnard was almost afraid to say her name. He paused feeling relief at the sheer fact that he could finally say the name to another soul.

“She tried to run...” he continued to tell Winnard. “but they took her and I hid so that they could not see, but I followed them. As far as I could. I followed them to Danneker Bridge. Things were out of control. There were items tossed out of the coach. I think I held one item in my hands, but I cannot be sure. At the time the screams were all I could remember. I didn’t recall that I gave up the chase. I awoke in my chambers with a massive head ache. Fraisdale served me tea. I supposed then, that it was the day that had followed, but I do not know how long I slept after the incident.”

“Dafton, you were there! You were there the night they took Cindelle? Who took her?”

“I do not remember brother. I am sorry.” He looked away from Winnard shamefully.

“Was it for days that you slept afterwards? Do you recall? Brother, I could not have been informed about this. I would not have boarded the ship that day; leaving the manor in an unstable way.”

Dafton was visibly shaken by recounting the incident so vividly. He had tried to push it out of his mind and he was consternate not ever allowing his emotions about the incident to effect his days. Seeing him this way Winnard wanted to assuage his brother who was in shock.

“Be calm brother. I am listening and I have returned now.” Winnard was standing about two arm’s length away from Dafton. He began to pace the floors of the Observatory as though he were walking through the corridors of his mind. Over the years he had sensed that there was a link missing in his expedition, but he dismissed it time and again. He ran his hands through his dark, thick mass of curls. Then remembering his brother’s state and deciding that he should bear closer to him, Winnard walked back and stood beside him.

“Is there anything else brother? Do you recall any further details?”

Dafton made eye contact with his older brother. For the first time he could sense a shared trust between them. For the first time his brother was asking him for information that he valued. It was not a test or a taunting match. He thought long and deeply. He reflected; he saw himself giving chase to the carriage. He saw something fall from it and he stopped to investigate the… the…he could not think of what it was. There was a piercing pang in his head in that moment as he tried to remember. He fought back the desire to let out a moan. Winnard continued to watch his brother struggle, but he could not understand his pain. After a few moments longer he said;

“Nothing Winnard. I stood there on Danneker Bridge and something happened.” He shook his head slowly from side to side and stood up straight releasing the backing of the chair. “I do not know what it was. I woke up here in the manor in my bed.” Dafton nodded his head in the direction of the west wing to accentuate the place that he remembered returning to consciousness. “It was as though the entire incident were a dream.” He inhaled and then exhaled audibly. “Wait I do remember something!”

“What! What is it Dafton?”

“I remember that there was a message. Cindelle left a message.”

“From the carriage? Is that what you found?”

Dafton thought hard searching his memory. “No, no not at the bridge. This was before the bridge. We were in the manor still and I spoke to her.”

“By Alexander! Tell me what you remember!” Winnard commanded called out desperate for the content contained only in the mind of his younger brother. He wanted to recover any aspect of the history of that day that he could take for himself. A feeling before unknown to him washed over him. Guilt, or maybe not so much, but definitely remorse. For it was his legacy there at the manor. It was his to protect and to direct. At the given moment he realized that he had failed to do this. When his brother was wounded, he left the country, and when his love was stolen away he was absconding to Clavlier University. Going away was supposed to improve the family name and the results were supposed to exceed their expectations. While Winnard went and returned with the promise of success for the first time he thought to himself; “What good is all of the intellect of man if there is no one upon whom to impart it and with whom to relish therein?” He had held on to reason before securing his cause. This was not the legacy that he had planned. It all happened so long ago that he was sure that rectifying his errors was far out of reach.

Next, the light of the sun must have peered through a break in the clouds because suddenly warm brightness was upon Dafton’s face. The gloomy feeling in the room seemed to melt away as it came to him.

“Brother I am remembering. Cindelle said, ‘Find it where we last met before the frost leaves and the ink begins to run.’”

Winnard mouthed the words of his brother to himself quietly and thought. Then relief dawned upon him and he knew where to look. It had been long ago after all, however he thought that if the room was as he left it that her message might be there still.

“Do you know where she meant?” Dafton asked.

“I do,” Winnard responded.

Dafton sighed a sigh of relief. “Well, let us go there.”

“I prefer to go there and search alone, if that is fair to you.” He hesitated, “I will search where I know and then I will regroup with you after. Perhaps we can recollect after Father’s dinner?” Winnard did not have the explanations to give Winnard for why this had happened. He did not know what Dafton knew and preferred to assume that he knew as little of his affair with Cindelle as possible.

Dafton’s countenance shifted, but he still looked hopeful.

“Am I to meet you here?”

“Indeed.” Winnard replied. They departed from the Observatory room then and each went their separate ways. Winnard wanted to give Dafton time to go and settle in a space where he would not become wise to the hidden space that he once shared with her. He had time to walk before he would be expected at dinner, and this is what he decided that he would do. The weather was warm and he set off to the orchard. Instead of doubling back on the path from which he’d come, he chose to exit the atrium through the lower level. He walked for a time along the cobblestone courtyard. He crossed the boundary that separated it from the grassy pastures and the fruiting trees beyond. It was different than he recalled when last he’d visited the place where they would meet. For it was the cold season and frost and snow had covered the grounds then. Those seasons ago when he observed that she had bled, he then wanted nothing more than to make sure that she was warm inside from that time forward. It had never occurred to him prior to that first time. He wanted to draw fruit from the trees branches that stretched out over head, but the season was not yet full. Winnard sat with his back against his selected tree. He never imagined that Cindelle had been stolen and could hardly comprehend what that meant, but he was bound to learn this. After about an hour ponder Winnard decided to visit the old room where he last laid in a private space with his secret, Cindelle. He was much too brazen to shed tears in general for fear that something terrible had happened to her, and even more so he felt this about any matters where circumstances were uncertain and that left him feeling unsettled. So he began to walk back to the manor calculating that he had just enough time to get back before dinner commenced. He entered through the upstairs this time. He passed the swings and caught a glimpse of another memory. He went through the observatory and down the short stairs to the hall. And began to walk down to the quiet room that was their private space and now his private memory. He paused at the end of the long hall and paused to listen for footsteps of even the slightest breath. When he was confident that he was alone he proceeded to his chambers to acquire his small oil lamp and then up to the room which contained so much of the unexplored history of the Brinbridge legacy, and Cindelle had now added to it.

Everything was as he had last seen it. He remembered laying with Cindelle on a soft pallet of linens just beneath the sill. Cindelle had found a lyre and strummed the strings briefly while reciting a poem more to herself than for him. He remembered when she began to feel relaxed around him and he would get to simply observe her as she was. He watched her think and answered her questions. She was curious and taken by his knowledge. She made him feel his strong stature in intellect before he even ventured to improve it. An animated soul she was with warm eyes, softly sculpted small features, and beautifully dark curly hair. Her cheeks would shine when they had been together. He recalled observing her once at the table when he suspected that no one else was looking. “No,” he thought to himself. “She was not the inanimate object Father had claimed her to be.” When he turned his attention to the place where they last had lain he saw it.

He closed the door behind him and walked over to the tapestries that were always drawn closed. The window faced eastward and beyond the manor grounds was nothing but forest for a far as the eye could see. Winnard knew that it was the way to the regions of Northern Europe for incalculable miles. One would rather travel by sea than land to get to those parts, he thought. There was a piece of terrain that was closer though. Beneath the sill there it rested; a slice of history that was Winnard’s true induction of him coming to know his self. As his thoughts drifted and thought back on the time when he had found his own thoughts scripted onto a cloth napkin in one of his books. He sat down just beneath the sill of the tall window and raised the light of his lamp. He read the letter;

Dearest Winnard,

I have been directed to pack my belongings and do presume that I will be shipped away from the manor sooner than I can meet you again. Auntie appears to be enraged and I am not to cause any further agitation to her disposition regarding me. It is a quandary that she would know any information pertaining to the affairs of our engagements. I do suppose that we are the reason that she is opposed to my residing here at the manor any longer. I did not intend to cause you more concern than you already must take upon yourself, but I may be with child. It is much too early for me to know. Although I am afraid, the lessons in bravery that you have shown by way of your will to forge and stand by your beliefs in both word and deed regarding the regime, as well as in the affairs that are between us, I do assimilate.

My love is with you,

Cindelle

The cypress paper fell to the floor and he was still with his thoughts and until his thoughts were quiet. He placed his head in his hands and ran his fingers through the thickness of his hair. Winnard sat suspended in a feeling of discordance. Then another thought came to him. “What could the contents contain?” he questioned. He mustered together enough strength to stand in spite of the weakness he felt momentarily in his knees. Then he gathered the page and envelop in his hands and decided to leave the room while placing them into his pockets.

In the evening, they met again in the Observatory.

Dafton waited beneath the sky line for his brother to come with news. He had with him only his lamp and the light of the moon by which he observed Winnard enter the room and to come into view. When Winnard arrived, he inquired;

“Did you find something there in the place as she said?”

“I did.” Winnard responded with notable reservation.

“Was it something that might help?”

“I suppose, but I do not know where she is, still. The contents do not help in that regard. She did, however, know that she was leaving. Cindelle did not know to where she was being taken.

A moment passed and then they stood close speaking to one another in low, but clear voices. Dafton sighed realizing that there was nothing further concerning the matter that Winnard would disclose to him. “Then I have kept my word to her as I promised.”

“Indeed, you did brother. It must have been difficult. I know that I was away at Clavlier, but I had no idea about this incident. You could have written me.”

Dafton did not want to let his brother know that he did not have access what was required for him to send him anything.

Winnard placed his hand gently on Dafton’s shoulder. Only Father sent Winnard letters because he wanted to be able to manage the information that Winnard received abroad. So, there was no way that he could have disclosed this to his brother. Besides Dafton knew that upon Winnards return that he would go back to being the dismissed as the youngest son. He took the opportunity while Winnard was away, to build a rapport with his father, Jeremi. He decided to learn the family business and let Father teach him the trade; Families, merchants, routes and important seasons related to diplomacy, and their culture. Something about the emotional news of his engagement to Countess Ajita Clarion shook him up because he had not recalled the details of that night prior to the incident. Therefore, if the chance had come where he might have written his brother, Dafton still might not have done so.

“I wish that I had recollection of the incident then, but I did not up until yesterday when we spoke.”

He almost shuddered at the touch of his brother’s hand for he was not used to feeling the touch of another in the capacity of caring or otherwise.

Winnard paused and stood in silence for a time. Then he slowly removed his hand and placed it down at his sides once again. They parted within moments and from there they each went their way.

The day light had come of the next morn. He could sense that the manor was abuzz with activity. No matter the hour, it appeared that each day would come down to preparing for Father’s dinner. He felt assured by the fact that the envelope was indeed sealed upon his receipt of it. Still, he was uncertain about what he should feel. He had not heard from her in 4 years and he did not wish to count the seasons. He thought of her off at a school like the one Magdelene had attended. He thought of her assisting another family with the lessons of the young in the house. He really did not imagine much about where she could be before now. The words “with child” were impressed in his mind. He couldn’t fathom the possibility, but what could he do with the contents of the letter? He had no one in whom he could confide about this. He did not want to tell Dafton too much more than he had already experienced. He would then have to part with the secrets contained in the briary. So, he hid the letter away in the chest in his room and commenced to re-acclimating himself at the manor and preparing his alibi. For he had already promised Father that he would indeed ask for the Countess Bredaeus’ hand in marriage. He surely could not change his mind now.

He had the letter in his pocket. The image of her handwriting etched in his mind. The probability of matters that he wished were within his control were beyond his reach. It was all so long ago now, the love between them and the closeness of their physicality, that he would have to search long and wide to find her, if she were still of s breath that was searchable. He was sure that there was nothing that he could do access her. It was not reasonable after the arrangements that he had recently designed. Further, he had just informed his father about his plans to request the Countess Bredaeus’ hand so that they might be wed. There were consequences that surrounded incidents like these. The letter, and the arrangements both had come at the most unsuspecting time. Yet he did not see this until after the fact of his decision.

And so, it happened one day when she delighted him with her company. She visited just to see him. It was a warm summer and Winnard had Fraisdale prepare a brunch for them. The Pavilion was still in the process of being erected, but it had become closer to completion since last Countess Bredaeus observed its structure.

They ate together at a small table in one of the sitting rooms by a south facing window. She was modestly dressed, but still elegant in her appearance. Warm baguettes and toasted bread, tea and an assortment of jellies graced the table. He had been brewing the idea in his mind for some time. He held on to the letter secretly in his heart, and kept Cindelle in his heart too, but with his work and familial duties, he knew that he would have to succumb to his desire for companionship sooner or later. He did not know where to search for Cindelle even if that were an option. It was not an option, however. He wondered how she would respond and how to approach her concerning her feelings regarding him. He didn’t have to wonder long, before he knew that she was receptive to his proposal. On that day the smile that graced her face upon him asking for her hand so pleased Winnard. By the warm months of the following year Ajita Clarion Bredaeus, the daughter of Colonel Hendle Bredaeus and his Mistress of the Pritipitus Isle would have him; an architectural merchant of Mesopotamia who had studied in America, for her husband and she would be his wife. For him, it was the perfect collaboration between Winnard’s youthful idealism about opening up the throughways of industry in his country in a way that would not alarm the regime to the idea that their youths were in opposition to the patriarchy.

They had science, merchandise, trades, and a culture that would create the firm bonds for the future of a promising Brinbridge legacy, or so they thoughtfully planned. However, plans do not always adhere to expected outcomes. Although this aspect of reality would not touch the Brinbridge family for a long while yet, there were some elements involved for which they did not prepare because they could not anticipate the unexpected.

Chapter 8

He will be in his 5th year this season. He has grown strong and is full of vitality. Daiveon Jeremi Brinbridge is able to tell me the story of his day light hours spent at play with the other children here at Greptinsus. In this quaint space in the world I have grown quite accustomed to the routinized mission of pressing the out the day. I have become a master seamstress here and design dresses for the commoners and the aristocracy. Men send orders for the dresses for their wives by courier via ships. They place orders far in advance and I work endlessly day and sometime through the night to complete the designs. The maestra who guided my stay here and planned my spiritual path procured one of my journals somehow; one where I kept drawing of the gowns I remembered wearing when I was at my home at Danneker. I tried to keep remnants close. The images began to fade from me after the first year that I was here. When my son was born I decided to keep my memories drawn out on paper and then I bound them. Most of them done in ink, some in carbon when I can manage the smudging; my son will be able to share in some aspect of the place that was originally our home. I plan to return there on my own if they do not soon send for me when I have saved enough wages for the voyage. For the time being Daiveon is handsome and is in the essence of his father. His schooling options are promising. The older children here are well spoken and encultured. I plan for him to begin with them in the next approaching season. He is afforded opportunities to mingle, and to learn with other students of parents both younger and older than I am already. They share their stories and discuss the hopes for what they might learn and explore together while we are all here in this region on this Isle. Still I have thoughts of home. I often wonder if he had received my letter as Dafton promised to lend his aid. It would be another 4 years yet before I would begin to unearth my origins, walk the land where I grew up, and see the face of my one love, Winnard.

It all began as an innocent lesson. I experienced his thoughts and he listened to me then. He seemed strongly opposed to closeness at first. But I recall that our conversations became whispers. The whispers drew us in closer to each other. Closer than we should have been perhaps. However, it was not until something changed in him that a silent but wonderful agreement was born, and from that silent agreement the blossoming life that is Daiveon Jeremi Brinbridge, heir to the manor that governs the Danneker Region and the waters thereof. Certainly, I had not thought of this then. I was young and innocent, and curiosity was my thirst. Naturally my thoughts wandered to him. Winnard so full of vitality and new information that a girl of my stature could only dream of attaining by some twist of fate. For circumstances were just so that certain knowledge in the mind of that which is female could lead one to unwarranted attention if her knowledge was brought before specific authorities. At home industrialization threatened the ruling monarchical structures. Here at Greptinsus, however, it crept upon the lands and spread like a beautiful quilt. Options for merchants both private and public off the coasts were showing signs of growth and personal expansion. Here the mind of the female, was beginning to have space for growth and the news abroad was that the industrial revolution was taking a firm hold in the country west of us. It could be felt here. There was a powerful feeling of hope emergent in the land and among the common people, and with this emergence, also rose a sense of danger because of the very patriarchs who were the merchants in this quickly changing landscape called commerce. They were my purchasers and did advertise in an inadvertent display of a level of receptivity to pending changing trends in the exchange of goods. However, if observed in the full light, one could actually foresee the ripples of great causality that would be the result of their endorsement in what they considered the Patriarchy. For my son I could expect a future very different. I hope for him to grow and acquire the companionship on one with a mind for such thinking.

Too, my thoughts visit Winnard and I can only wonder where he has chosen to place his desire for the attention of his curiosities currently. For as I was a budding flower with a propensity to know something, anything that was real and of substance; it was him who appeased this in me. I am sure that upon my unwilling abdication that this left a void in his desire to acquire knowledge, or in the least a void in this, pertaining to the reasons for which he sought to wield it like a sword at the expense of entertaining the developments of my cerebral propensity to know more than I already knew, and more than I was allowed to learn openly. My reservations arise mostly in the evening long after I have laid Daiveon to rest. I lay awake and think of him and the likes of an equal of the opposite sex who would invest interest in his ideas. For they struck me inwardly and caused my affection for him to grow. “Can the same thing happen twice to a man? As I have not found the thoughts of another where I desire to indulge since.” Cindelle said this to herself in her thoughts in the comfort of her chambers, filled with fabrics and gowns from work orders that would last her for longer than she cared to imagine; but in that moment there was nothing for her to do except to think of him until sleep found her and carried her on into the next time of awareness.

The Voyage

The plans were set for the wedding of the up and coming Count Winnard Brinbridge to the Countess Ajita Clarion Bredaeus after the journey of the father and son to the west. It was set that they would leave in the Autumn and return by the Spring that was to follow. Trading merchants needed an assured pasture by which they could acquire goods without concern for violation of clergymen and ruling authorities off the coasts of Europe, but it was a strong ideal. Where the waters outlet into the seas about 12 miles south of the bridge Danneker was a port that since closest to the Brinbridge estate required the permissions and signature of the family at the manor several times over the trading seasons, but for merchants to trade otherwise was considered an act against one’s countrymen and threatened to upset the balance of powers. The plan was to build a bridge that would be like a sibling port in the Americas to the one governed by the Brinbridges. It was to take a single brief journey down through Mediterranean seas. Legislation was checked by an agreement with a family who guarded a port there in Maine (in progress). Their position was similar to that of the Brinbridges’. The Viscount was originally from the Grecian Islands. Some of these were familiar to Countess Ajita Clarion Bredaeus and her father the Colonel who commanded the throughways at Pritipitus. The effort to avoid contending with the governing monarchy was a valiant one indeed. The only aspect that would have to be worked out was to create the legislation in a way that would thwart the accusations of treason should the port ever come under scrutiny. For though the Brinbridges had jurisdiction, they too resided in a region under governing bodies who might ask questions in which case the legislation had to be written to the letter. Foreign merchants were a cause for concern to local market places and store fronts that had for generations and centuries supplied the demands of the inhabitants of our lands. Initially, the bridge would be a narrow passageway by which new assertions and concepts and ideas might spring into existence merely by way of merchandise and trade skills. If it were to take root, however, It might become a culture in its own right irrespective of the lands and the heritage, and this is why the concept of industrialization was risqué. Still, it was a matter of thorough inspection and investigation.

Winnards marriage would mimic a similar theme in diplomacy. The marriage would come later though. For now there was work to be done, and travel across waters and borders. Only upon his return to his lands would the celebratory occasion commence. They prepared their trunks and took with them one of the stronger footmen from the manor along with several in minor positions there to help man the ship and the duties on board. It took 3 days to load the ship to satisfaction for Sir Jeremi. Meanwhile, Winnard met with his Countess becoming. It was difficult at the time for him to decide if he should lie with her before his departure. It seemed abrupt and he wanted things to be kept perfect for her as he withdrew from the lands only to be received by her once again the following spring. He had been alone for so long already and the voyage promised to elongate that span all the more.

Accompanied by Auntie Faelene, Countess Ajita came to the manor and agreed to stay there and to learn and live at the manor. Dafton was the Master at the house while Father and brother were to sojourn this voyage. One feast commenced during their preparation for departure. There was music by lyre and song of harp which surprised Winnard from one of the younger sisters, Phrancis.

“This is quite the occasion, and in my heart I do wish that your departure was not to take place this soon. If you stayed I would desire to learn better of you and your intentions here so that I might begin to clear a way that would appeal to your stature and intentions here.” She looked around his office where they sat and talked after the dinner faire. Her eyes were bright even by the light of candle and lamp. Her lips shown and her dark tresses bobbed up and down with her every gesture, which were many as she sat and expressed herself most eloquently at first. The places that she’d traveled and a memorable character at one place in particular. She was serious in recounting her remembrance of binding the wounds of an injured soldier who sought refuge in her Father’s ship. He had been and ally of the Tarhaiti Tribal people, but they turned against him when they learned that he too had a religious code. He tried to remember his practices when away from his home land and was observed doing so at an encampment. By arrow he was wounded and by her hands was his mending in both spirit and wound. The recollection was warm still, even after the 3 years’ time that Ajita had returned to her region. Winnard listened with a patient ear. He watched her astute posture become lax. They had wine made of grapes and he decided to move their conversation to the sitting room by the fire place. Delcia often sat there in that room in the morning of the day, but Winnard was sure that Mother was off to bed by this hour after dinner.

“Will you accompany me to a place more suited for our disposition?” He smiled a charming smile and offered her his hand. She followed him out of his office into the Gala room and they went out of it into the main hall where the grand stair case rose to the second level. The hall to the east lead them to the sitting room. It was the set of doors just before the doors that would allow them to exit the manor. That was not their intentions, however. They entered into the main sitting room and the hearth rug was there before the kindled flames which were warm against the autumn chill. Winnard closed the doors behind them and they sat near the fire. Ajita wore a shawl knit about her arms and neck. She liked to be at ease he observed her relax informally stretching out on the hearth as though she were a child. This was in stark contrast to her elegant presentation when her mind was sober and otherwise.

“While I would like nothing more than to indulge in the fancies of your peradventures, your beauty has undone the plans that I projected on this momentous evening. I do not presume that upon your acceptance of my proposal that you entrust to me the core aspect of all that comprise the countess to me here at my quarters, our future quarters. For the heart knows and the breath therein follows.” Winnard paused by Ajita’s next words. She placed two fingers in front of his lips softly and pressing her lips together she shushed him like one would do to lull a baby. He had not anticipated this, for she was directing him and Winnard in this moment realized that he had never been directed by a woman before that moment. The fire was burning brightly before him; a kindling flame where the sparks snapped crisply as they sat together. Countess Ajita Clarion Bredaeus said;

“To thee, do I give causation, for clearly one desires to first sip the wine before it had fermented. It is the custom of my people that they come into the land by which we will be joined before the tasting begins. It is the only way to ensure…exquisite experience in the coming seasons.”

“It is not the wine I assure you, but the initiated budding fruits thereof. For one must come before the other; and that is the succession of time, and without this motion would cease.”

She turned away from him and placed her hand beside her again. She pushed down whatever the feeling inside of her that wanted to spite him for his comment. Understanding the rules of the lands and her position as said a woman, she knew that her options were slim after being proposed a share of the estate of the Brinbridge family. Their region was fair and vast for the guarding of the southern coasts of Europe was their patrol. Still, they answered to the monarchy and the laws of the diplomatic structures, only the watchful eyes and ruling hand was not so focused on that over which the Brinbridges were entrusted to preside. Ajita had known a special freedom that not many women in that time had the opportunity to know. Inwardly, she was toiling with the idea of becoming a bride. As sure as time moved forward she knew that her mother, Mistress Breadaeus and Mistress Faelene had planned for her to be found in this way and to be procured by the Viscount who sat beside her. She brought her focus back to him then;

“Are not you and the Master of the manor departing within two sunrises?” she asked in a voice just above a whisper.

“We are, but that is not tonight. That time is not right now.”

She looked at him with the light of the fire in his eyes. She was taken with drink, though not completely. So, when Winnard kissed her mouth ever so gently, the Countess Bredaeus did not back away. She invited his peculiar touch and accepted it this way. Faintly, although she may not have been inclined to show him immediately, she did signal that she was receptive, for when they parted he could feel the tense flesh kiss him in return. They sat for a while longer, and Countess Ajita told him that she must depart that evening. They had invested many hours in that day. Winnard too was prepared to retire for the evening. Her carriage awaited her and he saw her to its enclosure. For the next day she would return with her belongings and settle into the manor where she would await the return of her departing betrothed.

That evening the night crept in and so did the chill of the autumn. While Winnard lay restless with anticipation of his voyage he thought about the evening and realized that his thoughts were with her. He thought about how quickly he would be departing from the manor upon her arrival. Winnard was counting on Dafton to make the Countess comfortable and familiar with the grounds. He knew his brother to be a character with a good sense of directives. He knew the intentions of his Father for him overseeing the Manor and he was feeling confident in his brother’s abilities to run things smoothly, and to receive the couriers that would help them complete the plans for connecting the ports of two continents. He knew that Dafton was not a socialite, however, he saw that the ability was possible in him. Besides, he had staff and some with a generational history at the manor, who were sure to oversee the affairs of the manor. Traveling was an odd thought to Winnard simply because he knew that this voyage would be the longest that father had taken away from the manor in several years. The companionship of his son should make the journey slightly easier, but in his mind, he wondered if the weight of maintaining the manor would actually be bearable for Dafton and he could only hope that Ajita would settle nicely into the manor and find her place.

The next afternoon as sure as the sun rose there were several carriages that lined the front steeple. Several footmen with rather fine suits and hats exited with trunks and other cases. Fraisdale was able to direct them all to the space that was set up for the Countess Bredaeus. They would have to be wed before they joined chambers, however, even then he thought that they might require two. Winnard was busy in his study room gathering up some final prints for the bridge that was to be built as a result of the journey. That evening was the final dinner before the voyage. Not as somber as some might have thought, the younger sisters were taken by the Countess. They told her about their lessons with the tutors and their plans to practice horseback riding when the spring came again and Father and Winnard had returned. Father interjected a couple of questions to show interest in the girls and assured Delcia; “They could begin those lessons as soon as this Frost season. Learning to ride in the frost season might ensure their mastery by the spring when they will want to on trotting and galloping Steeds without caution. The snow can pad falling and learning will be slower for the season where the stallions cannot travel quickly.” Mother gave a thoughtful glance and promised Father that she would look into the possibility with the stable keepers in Danneker. Auntie Faelene sat ramrod straight in her seat, surprisingly attentive to every verbal exchange. She was no doubt looking forward to watching the developments of the reformulated familial structure ensuing. The good evenings and goodbyes were short that night and in the morning before the warm glow could touch the skies they were already out of the manor and on their way to depart at the port of the lower region.

They traveled south first for more than a day before they were able to veer to the west. The water was cold but not so cold that they should fear for ice bergs. The frozen season had not yet come. For another week there after they sailed on westward before they were able to begin their journey north by way of the Atlantic. They ate stewed fish for most of the travel, oats for the mornings, and had mead with dinner and at times it was dinner. This was the first time that he would be traveling so closely with his father. The feeling was strange that came over him as he lay in the cabin night after night alone after spending the days traversing thought with his father. Jeremi looked spirited on the waters aboard the ship. He often traveled beneath the bard of the ship from bough to end in cheerful song which was a side of his father that he never got to see at home in the manor.

“When loading the cellar a man can keep dream of what the day holds in its sky laced cloud streams. When roaming the home a sailor chases windows to see the ships sails touch skies with grand splendor!”

And then he’d walk a few paces taping the floor with his stick and picking up again in tune; When Winnard learned the song he too was able to join in, by the second day traveling North.

“Sharply through the waters the rowers row on, preparing great courage for when the storm comes. We are the strong. We are the seamen. This is the song while the seas are our home!”

Winnard found himself joining in the cheer. He was making friendship with all aboard the ship. There was no separation of the team while aboard. He took notice that as they drew in closer again to the coasts of the eastern shores of the America’s the uniformity of service silently again came into focus. As they lowered the sails and began again to row land ahoy was the indicative signal. He was wondering as they drew in near to the coast if he had dreamed his way through some of the voyage. For the crew was almost in a militant order by that time. It was two weeks’ journey before they came to the mainland where they met the family of diplomats with whom they were cooperating. Sir and Baroness Landerman were the family. The port there was more of a dock, but there was some construction developing that was visible which interested Winnard. They left it to the crewmen to lower the anchor, and when the ship came to a complete stop Winnard and his Father were dressed in casual attire and were moderately prepared for negotiation and whatever affairs there were to lead up to the occasion of discussing plans. However, it would be days before they would begin deliberations. With Sir and Baroness Landerman was a younger woman. She was dresses lavishly and rather ostentatiously, Winnard thought. When introductions were made they did not introduce the young woman. Only the Brinbridge men and Sir and Baroness Landerman were introduced. The young woman smiled in his direction and bowed her head slightly. She carried an umbrella high over her head and twirled it around and around as they walked. He walk was slow and sensual as she walked on the arm of Baron Landerman opposite Baroness Landerman. She wore a black gown laced with red ornamentation. Her boots were of black leather and her heals tapped the dock as they walked closer in on land. “It was not proper to see a woman’s footwear,” Winnard thought distractedly. Roving through his thoughts, Winnard realized that he had never met the likes of a woman such as this; not when he studied at the University of Clavlier, and actually, not ever in any land. Even her aroma was thick within the ocean air. He walked along with his father. The moderate staff who followed them carried their trunks. There were boards with wheels that were let out from one of the cabins of the carriages complements of the Landerman’s. The Brinbridge’s had not seen this sort of contraption prior to this occasion. The street was lined with fine coaches and shining horses when they had walked far enough up from the wooden docks of the shore. Gulls squawked and flew above them. Even as they were seated in the carriages. As they pulled away into the streets to travel to their final destination there in Maine, Baron Landerman withdrew a solid metal case from a pocket hidden in his coats. He opened it up to the Brinbridges and offered them each a cigar. They accepted them and lit them right then as they traveled from the port to the estate of the Landerman’s.

“This is Govier. He is the head of staff here. He will show you to your accommodations and leave you with an itinerary detailing the plans for our developments.” Baron Landerman spoke to them as they exited the coach with his assistance. As they exited the coach they saw that the path that lead to their establishment was lined with many carriages. Baron Landerman could see the slightest glimmer and awe in the faces of the Brinbridges and he assured them by saying; “I am a businessman. I have many associations in this region.” He said this after taking another drag from his cigar. “Any resources that I have here are at your disposal. We may convene tomorrow for our discussions as scheduled.” They all shook hands. When Winnard searched the carriage to see her exit, he saw that it was empty. She had somehow slipped passed him during their conversation. He had not seen where she had gone and he was confounded for a moment. His mind wondered, but he asked no question after her. Instead he smiled and nodded in agreement with Baron Landerman’s spiel, and then they followed Govier up a broad, flat, stone stair case, across a landing with guards and copses in symmetry, and beyond through grand double doors. The lighting was dim aside from a single door open to a room that appeared to be very bright. Unlike the manor where the stair case was centered, the stair case at the Landerman estate was split and set to both the right and left sides of the base room which was mostly open space. The light in the room flickered and Winnard assumed that there was a fire lit in the room. The floors were a colorful of mosaic, and there were windows from the floor to the ceilings covered by tall tapestry. Realizing however that the time for exploring had not yet arrived Winnard had to pick up his pace and catch up to his father who followed closely near Govier. His quickened pace echoed in the space of the room. They made their way up the staircase to the right, and walked the long hall making two stops. First, they paused at the guest room that was set up for Jeremi. His things were carried in there and while that was happening Govier gave him a brief tour. Next Govier showed Winnard to his accommodations. As their trunks were carried up by a line of staff for the first time Winnard observed that he had indeed traveled a far distance to a new land, a new estate, a place that he might be referring to as home for some time to come. In the rooms there were no fire places like back at the manor. Still, the rooms were warm. Upon his studies he had learned of a duct system where a single fire could provide heat throughout an establishment, but he had not stayed at such a place before this time. The wall on the opposite side of the balcony where the stair cases met was lined with at least 5 doors that Winnard observed and assumed were rooms. Lanterns lined the walls coming up the staircase and into the hall. The same lanterns lit the guest accommodations as Govier described them.

“The itinerary for the morrow is on your night table.” Govier spoke stiffly and did not make eye contact with him as he spoke. If there is anything that the staff can assist you with you need only to push this buzzard and someone will come to assist you. You may use any of the wardrobes and accessories already here. Over there is your bathing room.” Govier walked over to the closed door and turned the handle, but did not enter. Winnard stood with his hands in his breeches pockets and gave his attention to Govier. When finally he was left alone in the room he took a seat in a chair that sat near the windows. He wanted to debrief and for that evening that is what he did. He organized his drawings and maps in one location in the room. He used the bureau tops to contain his cylinders and plans. He unpacked one trunk and hung several pieced in the wardrobe, carefully surveying his options. He paused briefly between moments to think about the mysterious woman who had not introduced herself and who had not been introduced. The flash in her eyes and the glow of her face was uncanny. He found himself hoping to encounter her again. A feeling of time speeding up came upon him as night set in. It was as though he were returning to the present moment from a dazed dream. His thoughts then turned from her to his Lady in waiting. He tried to see her. He tried to envision her face, but only thoughts of her elegance came to his mind, no image. He saw her shawl and her hair, but he could not see her face. He thought about dinner, about being in a new and rather strange place. He could tell that the wiring was different from that to which he was accustomed. He stayed in the room that evening. He did not press the buzzard, nor did he visit his Father. Rather he just stayed in one place and laid down with his thoughts about his Father, the briary, and this new journey upon which he had embarked.

“Winnard can you hear me? I can feel you.” At first the vision was a blur. It began to sharpen and he saw that he was outside in the frost where the fog was thick. He could not feel the cold, but he saw the breath seeping from his mouth against the cold air. The voice was of a woman with a thick English accent.

“I can see you if ye would reveal thyself from concealment.”

“But, my love it was you who hath hidden me here.”

He searched the fog and came to the trunk of a tree where the branches were bare. And he recognized the place. There upon the frost that clung to the blades of grass was a stain of crimson. It faded before his eyes and he turned away in a feeling of shame; then he remembered.

“No, I have never hid you from my presence. Our union was abducted; placed away from us for a time that had not yet come.” He spoke into the fog, finding his voice again and finding his courage. He hoped that she would appear before him. Winnard could hear is heart beating. He felt the pulse in his ears. Then, he listened closer and realized that it was not his own heartbeat, but the beat of another. The closeness frightened him and this was unfamiliar to him. First, the soft yellow glow of a laced front bodice appeared before him. The cleft between her raised bosom appeared, her lips were primrose and a single tress fell to her shoulders. Her hair was like his. Next, her eyes the color of amber became visible. Her face came to him through the fog. He reached out to touch her chin, but her hands slipped out and cut through the fog before he could make physical contact with her.

“Cindelle?” Winnard whispered her name.

She handed him a single wild flower the color of violets. In a fit of confusion his breath was caught in his throat. Winnard shifted his eye quickly back and forth observing the fog and the sight of her offering. He snatched his hand back and decided against touching her just then. He felt that the vision of her would escape him and sought a path in himself by which he might speak to her.

“Where did you find this?” he asked her.

“Aven gard don daedra node.” Cindelle replied in a soft, but clear voice.

Upon hearing these words he awoke, and it was the morning. He said softly, “In a place where it was never hidden.” Trickles of perspiration poured down his face. Without thought he cast what meager covering that was upon him to the side and got up to use the bathing room. He hoped that there was a mirror and felt that he needed to see himself quickly. And there was a vanity in the bathing room and water in the basin. He looked deeply at his image and then closed his eyes trying to see her face again and the image was clear. He had splashed water on his face and dabbed his face with a cloth hung nearby.

“She was here!” Winnard exclaimed to himself, shaking his head from left to right in disbelief.

There was brash rapping at the door just then. Someone had come to his room and was requesting his audience. His eyes were bloodshot and red rimmed. He was pale and unprepared to answer, but he gathered himself noting where he was and knew that he had to be focused for these business men and whomever was at his door knocking.

By the time he answered the door the knocking had ceased. He peered out of the doorframe and looked up the hall and down again to find that no one was there. With his eyes he followed the floors of the hall back to the threshold of his room and at his feet there was a silver tray. Upon it was a note. He retrieved the tray and went back into his chambers again. Immediately he could smell the infused scent on the paper. It was that of the mysterious woman. He thought quickly and tried to orient himself. He sat back on the bed and placed the tray on the nightstand where the itinerary caught his attention. Winnard decided to check this first, as he did not yet wish to know the contents contained within the note. He found the pillow casing appealing and there on his bed he tucked it inside, and there it stayed until later when he was ready to confront the new space that would be his home for a time. Thereafter, with the itinerary in hand, he sat and read.

Chapter 9- The Crafty Proposal

At the manor the daily routine was in transition. Mother and Auntie Faelene were growing closer with the remaining sisters who were at the manor. Magdelene’s school was faring well and there was discussion of an external governess school house being erected in due time. Kaitlyn assisted Magdelene who had schooled her in her ways. Helen had departed from the manor and joined the Wildemere’s at their estate. She had given word to Magdelene that she was expecting in the warmest season. Estelle was well learned in her studies and decided that her place at the manor was in the garden and studying the history of Art. She dreamed of creating a piece, but had not yet seen the promise of possibility. She too kept a journal recollecting the times and events at the manor. She still was unsure about the disappearance of Cindy, but held her tongue about her inquiries. Phrancis was becoming interesting in expressing thought in words and often practiced at the dinner table. This had not begun until the countess Ajita Clarion Breadaeus had come to the manor, Estelle noted. Her presence was of a sociable nature and her stories seemed to encourage the younger sisters to tell stories. Mother was against this because Delcia did not like the idea of fabrication, particularly from young ladies becoming, and she was not so close with the girls where she could observe which stories were true and which were not. Gilda and Hyde were still very close. There was no discussion of their plans beyond schooling at home. They too helped in the garden when the season allowed, but they stayed together and shared a bond that was between them. Though it appeared that the countess tried to make herself available to them, they made it obvious that their walks and purveyance of the forests of Danneker were of the utmost importance. Ladine and Jolly were under the wings of Magdelene and Kaitlyn as well. Estelle watched her family and listened to them. She retreated to think about what they meant to her and possibly to each other, but there were dynamics that she could not understand and that she could not easily place out of her mind. There were aspects that were out of place. From stories that she read over the time of her development to the experiences that she had early on in her child hood she wanted the have a sense of belonging that she had not experienced since Cindelle was there. Still, she bided her time and simply continued to note the oddities of her days as a Brinbridge daughter.

The frost season came and the sun set earlier. Without Father at the manor dinner was a different custom. It was no longer a matter of closing the day out with Father and his sporadic interjections inquiring about the lives of his offspring. Dinner now was conducted by Dafton or Sir Dafton as the Countess called him. She was the only one who did not look him straight in the eyes when his attention turned to her, Estelle noticed. Perhaps it was a matter of station and Estelle had yet to learn the rules of engagement by which Ajita and Dafton were to abide. She could not tell if it was a matter of comfortability, but she noted the serrated dance they performed when confronted with speaking to each other. She was never that way with her brother Winnard. Yet they were to be married and so perhaps that was the difference that she observed.

“Your studies are faring well with the academy I presume.” Dafton spoke to Magdelene as he sat in his seat at the head of the table where Father once had.

“Well brother, it is hardly an academy. Just a school of young girls who need to be taught their manners and the expectation of their respective social positions.” Magdelene replied.

“Are their differing expectations for them among your group or do they all receive replicated directions?”

“I do appreciate your interest in my school let me assure you.” She placed her eating utensils down to give her undivided attention to him. “At this time there are 2 separate classes. One for mistresses and ladies and the other for say…a countess such as Countess Bredaeus.” Magdelene nodded in Ajita’s direction, whom upon hearing her title tuned into the conversation by making eye contact with Magdelene. “I would invite you to take pause and observe one course. You might even care to participate.”

“How would that ever be possible? Can it be said that it would even be appropriate?” Dafton asked her.

Estelle continued to watch them, but she kept her head bowed slightly because she felt that this would help her to hear them better. All of the sisters gave them their attention. It was like watching a game of Toss the Beagal where you throw a small bag filled with what I presume to be rice back and forth across a table with lines and are required to extend the conversation each time you miss the lines of the tables’ parameters. Dinner was never this way with Father. He simply wanted to skirt the knowledge of his children’s’ daily affairs. Here my brother and sister were reaching into the spaces of one another where their paths did not actually cross for the real experience, and yet she admitted openly that she would be willing to show Dafton the place of her separateness. Estelle was taken aback all the more when Ajita joined the conversation.

“Would you be able to invite Sir Dafton into your classes based upon the premises of a lesson?” She asked Magdelene.

“I had not thought of that before Countess, but I suppose that would be the best devisable plan by which to commence such an occasion.”

“Might we be invited, I’d like to spectacle.” Ladine said trying out a new word that she was trying to comprehend.

“Dear little sister, I am sure that you mean spectate.” Kaitlyn said correcting Ladine with a slight smile upon her face. “It is a word from our list this week.” She said to the Countess and to Dafton.

“Yes, spectate.” Ladine said again and repeated after Kaitlyn correctly this time.

“While I would love to invite you and to have you join in to watch, I do not think that it is appropriate just yet for you to do so.”

Ladine was kicking her feet beneath her seat, as she always did at dinner. She stopped doing this upon hearing Magdelene’s gentle but unexpected rejection.

“When you are older you will have ample opportunity to learn the marvels of our Governess, you will not miss any directives because she is your sister.” Kaitlyn spoke to her across the table in a motherly way, soothing Ladine’s emerging ego.

Auntie Faelene and Mother looked on and were speechless as they sat at the right hand side of the grandson and son who conducted the social aspect of dinner that evening. They too were unaccustomed to such a display of interaction at dinner. However, they did not show disapproval from what Estelle could see and when dinner was complete every one parted and went their way to their respective chambers and activities. Hyde and Gilda spoke softly to one another as they exited the hall. Kaitlyn and Ajita accompanied the girls to their quarters and Estelle went to her quiet space to write her thoughts about the exchanges at dinner. She had a clue then about a happening brewing. It felt like the weather and even held a similar aroma of the time when they took Cindelle. She could not be sure about what to expect, but she sensed something developing.

Upon one evening after the customary ritual was complete and the Frost season was due to be in recession, Dafton found himself lying awake in his bed unable to shake a suspicion about his Father and brother. While he seized the chance to prove that he could manage the running of the manor in his their absence, secretly he harbored a feeling of hatred about the arrangements in which he had no say. For when he was left alone with Father, Jeremi supplied him with ample information about the business and merchant guide lines that he used to keep the functions flowing. He did not however, take any time out with him to share an inkling of his true self with his son. Dafton wanted to feel his connection to his father. He had heard stories about how happy Jeremi and Delcia were to have their son’s many years ago, but he was too young then to know that appreciation. He wished that it had carried over to where he could see it, but he could not see this. He continued to think along this line of thought turning his attention to his older brother. “He was so cold and withdrawn when Dafton finally recalled the details concerning Cindelle’s disappearance and about the note. He thought that his brother might confide in him some of its contents, even as a jester of gratitude, but he did nothing of the sort. He took what he could from Dafton and kept all of the rations for himself.” Dafton thought in his heart. This caused him to conspire within his mind. He thought all that evening until the moon and stars were high and the sun still had yet to begin to stir in the skies again. There had to be something more, something that he could gather from his beginnings, something of depth. Being a sitter of the manor was not fulfilling. At least not solely filling that positon. He found comfort in their way of ritual companionship; his sisters and mother, and the Countess, but none of it was his. He was merely a guard protecting the investment of his Father and brother. He devised a plan that night to learn more. He was determined to learn something of substance, and so he got up out of the bed and wrapped himself in his robe. While they took with them so much of their belongings, he was sure that something had to be left behind. He began searching in the chambers of his brother Winnard.

The halls were silent and not a single soul stirred therein. There was a moment of doubt that gave him pause. But by the time he acknowledged what the feeling was he was already standing at his brother’s door with his hand on the crystal knob. Dafton proceeded to let himself enter Winnard’s chambers. He had with him a lamp and a box of matches and only once he was inside the room with the door closed behind him did he rush across the room lightly upon his feet to where the moon inlet a bit of light so that he could strike the match and illuminate his vision. “Where to search?” he thought. Focusing he calmed his breathing and glanced around. “The wardrobe.” He decided that he would first search there. When he opened it he found it packed with ruffled shirts some silk and other with lace. “These are obviously my brother’s least favorite to wear. There upon its floor were a pair of bruncles used to lace the gear on boots, and an odd assortment of wooden tools, nets too small for fishing by Dafton’s assessment and other apparatus of which Dafton could not match to thought to its use. He closed those doors and searched again for another place where something useful might be hiding. He held the lamp up and let his eye drift across the room. He searched the vanity drawers and found nothing useful; he searched the night stands and found only manuscripts recounting the biographies of Greek philosophers and a handbook outlining the protocol of defense tactics. Perhaps his brother was reading about skills he’d need once he was Master of the manor. Dafton retrieved that manuscript, tucking it tightly into the waist of his trousers so that he could take a closer look at it later. Next, he just sat there at the edge of Winnard’s bed. He had taken a lot with him, Dafton observed as he surveyed the room somewhat lit by the warm glow of his kindled lamp, but mostly fallen into to darkness. Then something caught his attention. It was the glare of his light reflected in the brass finial and the foot of Winnard’s bed. “The chest!” Dafton thought. “Every one of our chambers is furnished with one of these at the foot posts. He got up and almost fell to his knees upon witnessing that it was still there. His heart pounded in his chest and he wondered if it might be locked, but upon touching his hand to the metal clasp there was no lock. Dafton placed the lantern down beside the chest. It was filled halfway to the top with papers bound by cloth and leathers. There were small instruments of measurement and drawings of other objects that were foreign to Winnard. He removed some of those and placed them on the hearth nearby. Mostly he found blueprints with intricate detail and numerical arrangements to which his knowledge in geometry had never yet introduced him. Drawings of people, and places, and candle sticks which Dafton thought was curious, then in the lower left corner of the heavy wooden chest that held the sweet aroma of cherry wood, there was a stack of paper wrapped in a linen cloth and bound by a strip of leather. The feeling that had come over him just then let him know that he had found something. He felt a deep sense of being, it was calm and contained a breath that he had been seeking. Before he even knew what, he had found his heart beat grew quiet in his ears and he was able to focus his breath, settling down. His attention had just been drawn to the fact that he may have been somewhat clumsily sloshing through the remnants in his brother’s room. He wondered briefly if he’d drawn attention to himself unknowingly in his fluster. When he was certain that there was no movement on the other side of the door that enclosed him in the room he began to place all of the contents, save the small package that he had discovered at the bottom of the chest, thoughtfully back into their places. When this was done he looked over the room once more until he was sure that there was no other place that incited his curiosity intensely. As quietly as he could manage he opened the door and entered into the halls again. There was no one that he could see or hear. Signaling to himself that all was clear, he was able to make his way back to his room with the contents of what he was sure contained some essential intelligence to his existence.

Again he was there on his knees for the second time that mid-morn. It was still dark and the day had not appeared to begin a stir. He opened untied the strip of tan leather and the unwrapped the cloth. Dafton placed the manuscript from the waist of his breeches onto his bed. It felt as good as finding treasure to him. What he saw next confirmed that it was indeed a treasure. The first thing that he saw was the envelope and cypress paper. The envelope was empty and so Dafton was certain that the page was that which was enclosed, but contained by the envelope no longer. He could hardly wait to read it. Yet he was unprepared for what knowledge he was about to have come upon him. The letter started out like this;

Dearest Winnard,

I have been directed to pack my belongings and do presume that I will be shipped away…

By the time that Dafton finished reading the letter, he truly wished that he had not. For he was now more confused than ever. He could not fathom the weight of what was being portrayed by the script. Knowing that he could not stop there with the bit of knowledge that he had just attained he pressed forward reading a though he was conquering a hunger deep within. It was Father’s briary which he had unearthed. He opened the pages gently turning and turning again letting his eyes flow over the words and images. He let his mind fill up with all that he could take in. Emotion flooded him as his understanding revealed truths harbored in the hearts and by the lives of the men to whom he looked to for guidance. The contents had undone Dafton in a fashion that he did not know existed. His family was not who he thought they were. “How then am I expected to be who I ought to be?” He questioned within his heart. He read until the sun rose and long after his lamp had burned out. All the while devising and conspiring a way to make himself over and to build a new pact. His plan was to immerse himself in self-reliance and to manage the affairs of the manor as though the men who he thought of as brother and father were never returning, because the ones who he called by these names were not who they portrayed themselves to be.

‘How could Father lie about his sisters and how could Winnard allow Cindelle to come into the fate that had befallen her?’ Dafton continued to contemplate in this way. His plan was one of spite and mirrored in depth his feelings of resentment.

Over the next season when there was no word from Winnard or Father and once Dafton was sure that he had strategically planned things well and that his designs were hidden he began to make moves in the direction of his choosing. ‘I will make what was to become his my own,’ he thought.

It took some time, but by the following warm season he began to work on her; Ajita Clarion Bredaeus would see him in a new way. He felt that he had her respect already. Probably ingrained in her due to her diplomatic upbringing. He needed to disarm her and while he had never practiced such a plan with a woman after his performance at a few of his sister Magdelene’s class with the young ladies there, his confidence was all the more raised up. He recalled visiting them and saw how their fluttering eyes became glazed over at the sight of him. They tried not to let it show but when several of them practiced there curtsies with him their hand trembled in his with the exception of a couple who were very graceful. Even then he could see them trying. It pleased him and prepared him for what alterations he was planning.

At dinner that evening he spoke to her directly for the first time. “Your accommodations here, how are they for you?”

“My lord, I find them…accommodating.”

“Yes, I hoped that you would. I am planning to walk through the orchard this evening at the cessation of this commencement, and I would like for if you to join me?”

She had not expected him to be so forthcoming. In mid chew she swallowed before her food was ready to be digested. She had to pause but then she answered him.

“If you would have me do so, yes I would join you, my Lord.” He liked the way that the countess had addressed him.

Dafton saw that Kaitlyn and Estelle winced at his asking. They made no comment, however Ladine did speak. “Will you return to tell a story this evening Countess?”

“I will tell you a story this evening,” Estelle interjected.

“You know I find that the path near the juniper berry brush would get one to the waters of Danneker much quicker than the way where we have to pass the redwoods.” Gilda said to Hyde while moving a pea to and fro on her plate.

“I do not agree with you,” said Hyde. I like the coverings by the redwood trees and find that the shadows of their winding and forth reaching branches guide one there with much more ease.”

“Well, ease was not the subject matter to which I was making reference. Rather, it was swiftness to which I was referring,” Gilda shot back with the gentlest voice that she could audibly muster.

“When one is desires pasture to the bridge it is presumable that they are in search of a leisurely expedition. That is what I was implying.” Hyde said looking up and making eye contact with Gilda.

Dafton watched them bicker without doing so directly. He often found their exchanges engaging for sport, however brief. He thought about their lives and tried to fathom where they had come from and how they would behave if they had a notion about their origins. He was in-angered at his prior notions to the truth about their origins, but he saw them differently. He saw them as searching and his assessment of his sisters now was influenced by his notions of their origins. He felt slightly removed from them but still, the lingering stint of obligation compelled him to continue steadfast in his position in relation to them; all of them save the one Ajita Clarion of course.

“As dinner is commencing I hardly can agree that such fuss is acceptable. I will not see it here and now. Away with it!” Auntie Falene who hardly ever spoke directly to any of the sisters lashed out upon identifying the angle of quarrel.

“Yes Auntie, forgive me.” Gilda said quickly.

“Pardon us Auntie.” Hyde said as more of a retort than as an actual apology. With her eyes narrowly focused on Gilda she did not see the gnarling look Auntie Faelene cast in her direction. By the time she had looked back towards Auntie who sat across the table Auntie had gone back to drinking her sangria and picking at her dinner; the remainder of which was quiet save a couple of short stories from Phrancis and Ladine.

That evening odd as it may have appeared, no one said a thing regarding Dafton escorting Ajita into the gardens in the front of the manor. They took their leisurely time as their destination was the orchard at the annex of the manor.

“I do hope that you have found your living with us at least tolerable as compared to the comforts in the home to which you are accustomed.” Dafton said this to Countess Ajita.

Without turning to face him she responded. “Being here has been a befitting contrast to living on the seas and crossing them so many times over. Even the Bradeaus’ who live far north of here often called to send me to act as the missionary or the ambassador of certain affairs first. This past four seasons is the longest time that I have spent in one place, and I have rather enjoyed the settling,” said Ajita.

“In this I take pleasure to hear my lady. If I may call you ‘my lady’. I know that formalities were of the utmost importance to you when at first you had arrived.”

“If it pleases you, “my lady’ will do for now, Sir Dafton.”

He looked over and down at her as they walked side by side. His eyes moved from the mass of her hair to the fore place of her profile. Her eye lashes were striking from this angle and her lips, he like what he saw when he looked her way and he observed that she almost refused to return the viewing of him. Still, he was confident that it was not a lacking on his behalf that kept her from glancing in his direction. The Countess was forward in her thinking mostly and well spoken, but he was sure that in her position, that she did not wish to strike contradiction with her position as Winnard’s betrothed.

“I wish to address an issue that is of some consequence.”

“Is it regarding your Sir Winnard? Is it regarding Master Jeremi? They have been away for longer than said and expected. I know that they were exchanging plans for the bridge, but I did not know that they were staying for long enough to scaffold it.”

“No, actually I wish to address your position here with us. I am considering you Countess on their behalf where they are not able to at the present.”

“Oh! Well of course. I do not know what to say.” She almost paused walking and they were still at the side of the manor and were just beginning to reach the annex.

“Is it about who I am, or a matter of who you are supposed to be becoming?”

“Well, I do have an intended.”

“It is my duty to keep the arrangement that our families have made even in the event that by some stroke of misfortune…”

Ajita paused completely and turned to face Dafton. She placed a hand over his lips and asked him, “Please do not finish the sentence that you are about to say.”

“If you are privy to my intended conveyance then I will not have to.” He knew that he was charming. She could hardly look at him directly without faltering. He was not going to let that come in between them, however. He had plans and designs that he intended for them. “It will not harm you to see me Countess, this I can promise you.”

A warm feeling arose within her and she knew where his thoughts had constructed a plan for their future. “But Sir Dafton, it might inflict that which is not intended and for that I am not prepared.”

“You knew that I wanted to address this? Did you not?”

“I knew.” They were now walking the path that would lead them from the courtyard to the orchard that lay beyond it. Her arm entwined in his, formalities still remained at the fore front of her mind. “What will the others think? Have you considered that Winnard might indeed return?”

“I have and I am prepared to bear the responsibility of the decision that I must make in his absence.”

“So then, this means that you will have my hand?”

“Yes. This is precisely what it means.”

She smiled a small smile.

“Well then, I have been wondering and do hope at best of their safe return.” Ajita’s eyes sparkled even in the absence of day light. Her face was lit by the evening stars in the rotating heavens above them. Then she gave him a reply. “I accept.”

They walked further into the orchard where the fruits were heavy in the trees and the season was prime for their picking. The sweet aroma from them wafted through the air and carried the essence of them to their noses as they spoke to one another softly. Countess Ajita was feeling renewed at Sir Dafton’s courage in coming forth to finally exchange words of actualization with her, and she was surprised to find the extent to which he was dutiful to his position. She began to plan in her thoughts and within her heart, and Dafton, in his mind began to plot further. They were both feeling a spark of renewal at the close of night when they each departed to rest and rejoin the next day again for company and conversation.

Chapter 10- Family Synthesis

The plans were settled with the citizens of Levenstle in Maine. The Baron Landerman was pleased with the prints that Sir Dafton presented and he arranged for Dafton to meet with the company of architects and masonry men who would erect the bridge. All of the business arrangements of this travel seemed to be going well, but Dafton was experiencing a side effect to the travel that he had not anticipated. “Sea sickness lad.” One of the seasoned seamen from aboard their ship suggested to him as he sat and attempted to gather himself one day after a meeting with the company. “I’d have thought that I would recover from such a feat soon after our arrival.” “No, me lad. ‘Tis something that can take some time for one to recover from.” He had many restless nights thereafter, and aside from the meetings at the industrial site where the company studied his plans Dafton stayed mostly to himself and in his chambers.

Jeremi, his father seemed to be making a tour de force of the travel. He went by coach into the town and bought remnants of the city for the family back home in Danneker. There were several occasions where Dafton met with his father for supper with the Baron and Baroness upon their request, but he lived there on their grounds experiencing it as though it was a dream. Once when the woman with the sweet essence joined them for dinner, Dafton could only muster the authority to speak within the confines of his studies on the work that he was contracted to complete there. She eyed him while they sat at the table that night; although if it was lasciviousness, contempt at the fact that he had yet to address her about the note, or sheer interest, he could not be sure, but again no one spoke directly to her that evening and she did not speak directly to any one at the dinner table either. They sat and ate and then they departed. To Winnard it felt like a very long dance without the slightest utterances. This is how he perceived it and was able to maintain his composure about this oddness of acquaintance.

They had been away from home for about a full season then. They were supposed to be on the seas returning home. There was a wedding to sanction. She was a beauty, the Countess Ajita Clarion Bredaeus. “I am excited about the prospect of marrying her am I not?” He asked himself as he turned over in his bedding night after night. His thoughts about Cindelle came frequently and somehow her voice traversed the span of time as he was there visiting the Landerman Estates far from any place where he imagined that she could be and he imagined that they were both far from the place where they once shared the notion of home. The season turned from cold to ice and began to become warm again in the slightest of ways. The Landerman Estate was always busy as their port was the main means of imports and exports of goods within a great radius of the northern states of the America’s that were to the west and southern borders of it, and even in at its northern border in Canada. While his attention was taken with this company and the plans, he simply felt less and less like himself, less assured of anything outside of his work, and the note from the ravenous temptress haunted him. Rather than read what was encapsulated in the envelope, he thought about Ajita to whom he was to be espoused although it was difficult for him to envision her face. He dreamt of Cindelle, always vivid images, her shinny hair and smiling lips, but her eyes were sad and sometimes tearful. Sleep was an anguishing experience with which he had to be faced at the setting sun for as long as they stayed there in Main at the Landerman Estates. Then, finally the day arrived where the company announced the commencement of the erected foundation. “It is resolute!” they said at a celebratory congregation of the heads of the Board, as they raised their glasses and drank to the occasion. There was music and dance and a shared sense of accomplishment between the men. There were women with their faces both powdered and painted, dressed in beautiful and ostentatious gowns. “What a staggeringly successful affair Baron Landerman and Baroness”, Sir Jeremi spoke to them brightly with his son Winnard at his side. “I must agree. Our tidings are with you and your brilliant son Sir Winnard”, The Baron replied gingerly as they stood upon a balcony above those enjoying the festivities. Then, as he turned, Winnard saw her coming through the corridors’ columns that gave entrance to the balcony. Her gown was stunning. Her bosom, and shoulders, and arms were covered only by a thin see-through layer of soft mesh the color of ivory and was be speckled by tiny gems that shone like diamonds all over. The gown was shaped to fit her bodice in the front but the anterior of the gown spread in a unique fanning bow, the tethering ends of which hung low to the floors behind her. It was the likeness of that which Winnard had never seen before. In this, she was more breath-taking and looked less like a temptress. He placed his hands behind him and had to regroup planting his feet firmly where he stood once again. He was preparing a way to address her when he saw to his surprise that she was accompanied by a gentlemen whom he had never seen the entire time while he stayed there at the estate with them. “Oh, you have finally come to join us Todorian!” the Baroness spoke holding her hands outstretched to him admiringly. She gathered him to the side of her. “Let me introduce you! Winnard you have not met our son while you have been here with us. For he has been away studying the ancient rhythms of mathematical logic in Greece. Todorian, this is our architect at the company who designed the plans. The foundations of which we are here celebrating tonight!”

“Thank you for those introductions mother”, Todorian replied to the Baroness with a slight nodding of his head. It is wonderful to meet you in person Sir Winnard of the Danneker Region. I have read wonderful reviews about your efforts here. “Interesting, I am only just being introduced to the notion of you Sir Todorian, but your Estate and company speak volumes about your endowment and it is a pleasure to meet you.” Winnard tilted his head forward slightly in acknowledgement of the heir of the Estate. Briefly he wondered how such information of Sir Todorian’s existence could have slipped past him this entire time, for he studied the family before he arrived and recalled nothing about them having a son, but he gathered his wits again quickly. “It is a most joyous occasion upon which we meet this evening.” Jeremi spoke to Todorian and introductions ensued this way until all acquaintances were fulfilled. Just when a quietness began to settle amongst them the baroness turned to the young woman termed temptress and asked her, “Gellia dear, your gown is stunning this evening, from whence was it acquired? I don’t believe I have ever seen you in this.” “Why thank you mother. Todorian brought it back from his travels only days ago!” Winnard was flabbergast as Gellia turned to Todorian and spoke; “My darling did you say that it was a seamstress of the Isle of Greptinsus?” “Indeed, my love we sailed near the way upon our return here. I could not pass it up when I saw it.” They looked at each other admiringly, before Gellia returned her attention to the Baroness again, and Todorian turned his attention to Winnard who had a curious look as the place chimed a familiarity in him. “Did you mean Greptinsus Isles near the coasts of Anoona?” “Indeed that is the place of which I am speaking.” Todorian replied. Sir Jeremi, upon hearing the placed called out, cleared his throat as though his drink in hand had finally gotten the best of him. Within moments he had bid his goodnights and went on his way to his chambers. Winnard departed sometime later that evening. A feeling welled up in him that he could not explain, but it was almost as though Levenstale had finally felt like a place where he had, for at least a time, belonged. Amidst the confounding aspects of his travels to the place and the mysterious feelings that surrounded his stay there, he was sure that navigating his way back to his homeland was finally the next venture.

Within a weeks’ time their voyage back to the region called Danneker was under way. The feelings of disillusion dissolved and Winnard’s focus became as it once had been, clear. “Why had it not occurred to me that father would have more secrets than those comprised in the briary?” he asked himself. He had a hankering and without alerting Jeremi he instructed the crew that they would sail first to Greptinsus before passing again to Danneker. You must not alert my father to this slight alteration in our traveling plans until we are too near for us to turn away. This undertaking is in the highest order, do I have your word?”

“You do Sir Winnard. After all you are the heir to the Brinbridge Manor and the future Master of it.”

Winnard walked easily and even slept more peacefully on their voyage back to the coasts of his homeland on that journey than ever before in his more recent years. In their second week on the waters they sailed near Anoona to Greptinsus. Winnard had reasoned that if Cindelle were still alive and had indeed be sent away that Anoona was too obvious. He hoped to find the answers to some deep seeded questions upon docking at the Isle.

“What’s happening? Shouldn’t we be treading nearing the estuaries of the waters of Danneker by now? Jeremi asked the captain as he found his way up from the cabins of the ship. We should be bearing farther eastward! With these winds we’d be home within another 2 suns rise.” Yes, Master Jeremi, we have a scheduled post as part of the….” But before the captain could complete his sentence Winnard came to the deck and listened in. Then, Jeremi saw it. He saw the western coast of Anoona and not too far in the distance east of it; the rising lands amid the vast North Atlantic Ocean. At that moment he knew, and he addressed it immediately.

“What is this? You have the audacity! You are my son I entrusted you to…”

“To what exactly, Father?” Winnard replied calmly. “To partial truths? You embedded in me the idea of a family and that idea was false.”

“It was not false! I gave you the truth, you have our legacy!”

The captain looked on ahead and did not deter the ships course. He heard the Father and son, but minded his position and kept steering.

“Where is she Father?”

“You have a wife awaiting you at home. You best mind the parameters of the contracts with which we make blood agreements!” Jeremi’s voice said in a deep growl as he narrowed his eyes looking Winnard square in the eyes.

“What knowest thee about blood ties except for those that you perpetrate to be of suchness and then cast them away like farmers cast away slop to the swine?”

“Mind yourself! You have no idea of that which ye speak! You will find nothing! Steer this ship to the Med. Sea at once!” Jeremi used his fingers to point in the direction.

“Hold your Course firm, Dabolier!” Winnard commanded the captain.

Upon hearing his name, he agreed with Winnard and kept the course to Greptinsus. We will be docking there with the setting of the sun.” Dabolier assured them.

Inwardly, Jeremi was feeling tumultuous. He had entrusted his research to his son and now his son had turned on him. He could not predict what was to become of this voyage for those many years ago when Fayelene made the plans for the girl to be sent away, Jeremi did not want to know to where; but they all knew Anoona. While Jeremi hoped that Auntie would have implored more prudence with the place to which she would confide Cindelle; he had no way to be absolutely sure that the isle that they were approaching did not contain the girl.

“You will regret this Winnard! A son who turns against his Father deserves a fate far worse than death!” Jeremi paused and perspiration began to form at his brows and bead upon his skin all over.

“And what of the fate of a man who names himself Father only to groom the trust of an innocent child to then cast her away to the whims of a fate which ye cannot not find the courage to even begin to question?”

“You know there’s more to the history than that! Come on Winnard! I bred ye better than this. Use your wits. Countess Bredaeus awaits your return, the Manor needs you. Are you going to invite her to sit by you as your wife? Heavens, you are mad?”

“Because my Father was mad before me, I suppose that I am! We will go to Greptinsus and I will learn of her what I can there. If you say that I will find nothing and I have your word on it, then what have we here to discuss?”

At this question Jeremi ceased answering. The Father and son stood glaring at one another, each harboring the secrets of his heart about the matter.

“Then I release my concern regarding your conquest.” Jeremi said firmly, but winded. His shoulders relaxed and his hands fell to his sides. He felt a deeper sense of betrayal than defeat. Winnard had his own designs and once a Father has done all that he can do to guide his legacy he has no more reason than to release the reigns and watch his progeny go upon his way, Jeremi reasoned. “If she is here…”

“She is gone, Winnard!”

He felt a hesitation within him, but he pressed forward and they sailed to Greptinsus and docked there on the small isle and were delayed their journey home by 2 sunrises. From a young chimney sweep at the school he learned of the woman whom he sought.

“The head seamstress just boarded a ship not even a week ago, sir. She’s not here.”

“Did you know her?” I knew her, sir. She was Lady Cindelle. She brought the isle and the school a lot of recognition. There was an influx of merchants from all over who could attest to her skill. And with that skill she bought her freedom to leave. She proved that she could live anywhere.

“I thank you for your intelligence concerning this matter.”

“Yes, sir.” The young boy with soot all over his clothes and face went from smiling and happy at the opportunity to inform a foreigner of what he knew to having sagging shoulders again as he turned with a bucket of metal and tools therein to continue on his way.

“A bag of coin for your story, young sir!” Winnard called to him. His face brightened once again.

“Oh, thank you sir! I’ll have you know one more thing.” The boy said this quietly to Winnard who kneeled close to listen. “There was a boy. A prince or something. It was supposed to be a secret, but everyone knew. He carried himself in such a way. We were taken with him, but they are gone now.”

“Are you sure? With her was a boy?”

“Do you know them?” the boy asked innocently.

“I do hope so.”

At this the boy turned with a grin on his face hold tightly to his bag of coin and skipped away.

When Winnard finally returned to the ship, he gave no word to his father of what he learned. He was dismayed that she had gone. He did not imagine to where. But he had accomplished his intent and with that he slept clear through the journey home.

Chapter 11- Unveiling the Pavilion

When at long last they sailed into the port of their home waters. A full year of 4 seasons had gone by and a journey far greater than that for which Winnard had prepared. He held on to Cindelle’s letter in his heart and accepted that as her fate and as his penance, for he did have a beautiful wife awaiting his return at the manor. He never opened the note from the temptress at the Landerman Estate. She turned out to be the wife of Sir Todorian, to his surprise. He had not expected that and with his departure from his work there he wished to know no more of her than he had already learned. In his mind he had settled upon working on the way he would preside over the manor and the port of the Danneker waters there. He and his Father had not said more than a few words upon the remainder of their journey.

It was sunrise when they arrived. The skies were tinged with golden and orange bands of cloud. The warm season was warmer still. And there was a bustle at the estuary where they planned to dock and unload.

“What in the name of Ceasar is going on?” Jeremi asked with surprise as he again climbed to the deck of the ship from the cabin below, upon hearing the bustle of voyagers being paused at a place where they could not easily sail into their port.

“I do not yet know, Master.” Dabolier replied. “The port is full, there is no place for us to dock for miles up the coast.”

“How can that be? It is our port!”

“Is not that the Sigil of the Pritipitus Isle?” Winnard pointed out the folds blowing in the wind high above one of the ships sails.”

“Indeed it is!” Jeremi replied

As they looked around at the ships that were posted there they saw that just about all of the ships bore the sigil.

“I cannot imagine! What doth thee make of this Father? Dabolier, what make ye of this. We can hardly go home and yet here we are.”

“We can drop anchor farther back westward. It would require a great deal of walking, but we’d be able to begin our journey on land,” Dabolier suggested.

“Do that immediately!” Jeremi gave his command.

As they began their journey on land it was sunset by the time they approached the Manor. The affair there was grand. There were fireworks ablaze and dance and fancy fair all around.

“It is as though a wedding is commencing Father.”

“You are right that is my observation as well.”

“But how Father?”

They approached the crowd gathered all around the Manor, but the main affair was at the annex of the manor. Somehow they made their way through the crowds of people. They witnessed the same scene together at once. There on the Pavilion, the erection of which Winnard had not even completed stood a couple therein and the Pavailion, to Winnard’s utter amazement was complete. He paused as they announced the man and wife.

“Master Dafton Brinbridge and his Mistress Ajita Clarion Brinbridge.” A minister had announced.

Jeremi and Winnard searched the crowd for familiar faces. Auntie Fayelene and Winnards Mother were smiling and seated at the front of the Pavilion. The sisters were all gathered together bearing witness in unison. Jeremi went over to take his place by Delcia. Winnard looked on in disbelief for a long moment almost dead center in the gapping space where the guest congregated. His world spun and he did not have his bearings for a moment. He looked all about the courtyard and there were people all about the grounds, but one face struck him. Clear out of his dream dressed in a gown of yellow ocher, white trim lace and, tiny golden sparkles caught his eye. Her olive complexion, smooth skin, and striking profile with long tresses hung over her shoulders.

He made his way over to her. “Cindele? Can it be you? Can it truly be you?”

She turned to look him in the eyes. “Winnard you’ve returned for the occasion!” She embraced him. “You are here. It’s really you!”

“By god yes of course it is really me! You came here? When you left the school at Greptinsus, you came here?”

“Yes, I returned home. To where else might I have traveled?”

“I cannot fathom.” He embraced her again. The crowd was focused on the bride and groom, but he was almost certain that their display of affection was not going unnoticed. Then the crowd began to cheer for the wedded couple up on the pavilion. With their cheer as a cover her took Cindelle by the hand and quickly directed her to follow him. To the annex where his office was would be the ideal place to quickly go and regroup. It took some shoving, but he was able to take her there through a corridor and past the way near the pantry. They bypassed direct passage through the kitchen which was busy as a hive of honey bees. “This way.” He took her farther still and just inside the Gala Room which was crowded still he let them into the cove of his office. Once inside he closed the door behind them and immediately lit the lantern that he remembered was always just at the edge of his desk, so that they could have some light. The heavy wooden door closed out most of the sound and they could hear one another.

“Winnard I have sought you out for so long, with my thoughts and with my heart. I was only able to arrive here today. They never sent for me as promised.” Cindelle said, as though she were unloading internal luggage and replacing it in a proper order again.

“I do not know the details of your disappearance any more than what you wrote in the letter.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

“That is another story, but Cindelle do you know….” he paused. Her face was flushed in the warm glow and he was reminded of a time that they were together in the years before. He wanted to concern himself with the affair of the manor but he saw her and was astounded at the familiar feeling of comfort and wanting. “…I have to learn what has happened here. The time will come for us to join together again, but I must put some things to rest.”

“First, I must tell you something Winnard.” Hearing his name from her lips sent a sensation through him that he could not ignore.

“What is it?”

“His name is Daiveon, and he is not mute, nor is he lame.” Cindelle said this proudly. Winnard understood her in that instant and responded accordingly.

“Yes, he would not be lame, Cindelle. You are no sister of mine. “I… and my brother Dafton are the only offspring who are truly that of Jeremi and Delcia Brinbridge. You were all assimilated to this family by means that are far too intricate for me to explain here all at once.”

“Father is not my father? I am hearing you correctly?”

“I am afraid so.”

Cindelle’s face was contorted and portrayed her confusion, but her beauty was not diffused by the darkness nor by the perplexed expression on her face.

“I promise to tell you more, but you must wait. Gather Daiveon and meet me in the morning at the place we last met. Do you recall it?”

“I do.”

“Meet me there at the first light.”

Meanwhile, outside in the courtyard, amid the celebration the couple on the pavilion were coming down to walk through the crowd. Dafton and Ajita smiled and waved at the crowds of people, both her people and his own people along with many other diplomatic families flooded the courtyard that evening. But amidst the celebration something caught her attention. “Dafton!” She spoke close to his ear and kept smiling. “There is a light in Winnard’s office.”

“A guest must be lost dear. Would you like for us to go there and direct whoever it is right now?” He said through tight lips with a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“But I was almost sure that it was locked.”

“Then we shall go there, if that is what you wish.” Dafton replied firmly with attentiveness to his new bride.

Everything happened so quickly from that second when Ajita told him what she had saw. Next, Dafton saw his mother in the crowd accompanied by his Father, and he knew what had happened. They had come home. They had not been lost at sea. He searched the crowd for Winnard, but remembered what Ajita said that she observed. His eyes then landed on the face of his Father and Jeremi locked eyes with Dafton. Although there were at least fifteen others between them, Dafton caught the expression of pride on Jeremi’s face as he stood there next to Delcia. Auntie Fayelene was not far from them. They still pressed their way through the crowd to investigate Ajita’s suspicion. In through the annex of the manor they went, and almost via the same passage as Cindelle and Winnard had traveled not long before Dafton and Ajita. When they entered the ballroom the crowd raised their glasses to the couple and music in the ballroom commenced. Dafton and Ajita smiled and nodded as the crowd bowed and gave cheer. It took some time, but they were eventually able to make their way to Winnard’s office.

When Ajita turned the knob the door opened and inside there was a light and a man and woman, each entangled in the arms of the other. Startled by the intrusion they parted swiftly, but not before being thoroughly caught in the act of their affectionate exchange.

Before any words could be spoken there was another rattle at the door and caused Dafton and Ajita to move away from the entrance. Into the office came Father and Mother and Auntie all looking at one another without words. The door closed once again only to be rapped upon once more and opened. The young face of a boy peered into the room. The warm glow of a lantern on his face as it was with the rest. Only his face was brighter because he was a child whose height allowed him to be closest to the warm flame. “Mother are you here? I have searched the courtyard for you, and I am done mingling with the other children.”

“Yes Daiveon, I am here.” She let the hand of Winnard fall from her own.

“Will I have a proper sleeping quarter?” his voice was small, but strong, and he was in the image of his father.

“Yes, you will have a proper sleeping quarter.” Winnard responded to the young boy. All eyes fell to the boy and there were no words that needed to utterance to further depict their story.

The End


The Mistress at Krangston's Place


Prologue

Stranger things have happened.

Part 1

"Francita I'd like to see you for a moment, do you have time right now?" Maestra Doria asked rather sharply.

"Are you telling me that you'd like to see me right this instant? I was on my way out to buy tea so that you can have it with your toast, but sure if you'd like, I have time right now," Francita replied. "Maestra Doria, what is this about? The urgency in your voice startles me."

"Gretchel is on her way."

"Really? Well, that's sudden."

"Yes, she really is on her way here right now. Will you be joining us for tea? Maestra Doria inquired. "If so you will be here and we can talk then."

"Would you mind telling me what you'd like to see me about right now and then I will make the tea when I return?"

Their voices echoed when they spoke. The Maestra's home had high ceilings, it was open. You could stand in the door of the attrium and peer into the entire downstairs. There was an area for dinner and tea, a long couch and cushioned chair with a high back. That was the Meastra's favorite place to sit. You could see clear into the kitchen even. The place was very lightly furnished and the walls were mostly bare.

"First things first now." Maestra Doria said slowly with inflections in her voice that revealed her elderly age. "It's been a very long time that we've known each other. Do you know what we ate at our first dinner? Hunter was here then. What did he eat for dinner?"

Francita worked for the Maestra and her husband for years until her husband had died recently. Now she just worked for Maestra Doria.

"What did I eat for dinner yesterday?"

Her memory was escaping her, Francita noticed and she had to take out extra time to remind the Maestra of things that she did in her daily routines. Maestra Doria would even confuse her time lines. More often as of late.

"Well it has been years since I made the first dinner for you Maestra, but I believe you had mashed potatoes, spinach, and meatloaf. I was but a girl then. Yesterday you ate rice and beans."

"You cooked for me when you were a girl?"

Francita had to listen closely to see if it was a statement or a question. After a short pause, Francita decided that it was a question.

"Yes, I was but a girl then. You may inquire further Maestra Doria; go on." Francita encouraged her.

Just then, however, there was a knock at the door. Francita decided that it must be Gretchel for the Maestra, but when she opened the door however, she was surprised to find that someone had knocked for her. She excused herself from Maestra Doria saying that she had to run an errand. She did have to go out for tea after all. Maestra Doria agreed and dismissed her. Francita gathered her silk scarf and long coat from the hook behind the atrium door and went out to meet him, his name was Newland Hanford.

He walked with her and talked to her on the way to the market place and back.

"When you think back, do you remember to Krangston's Place?" Newland asked her.

"The Krangston's Place? But of course, how could I ever forget the Krangston's Place?"

They were walking back now and she carried a little bag with a small canister that contained tea leaves.

"The house had the blue wallpapers interlaced with satin impressions of floral or something to that affect. How could anyone forget?" She paused at the corner of a crosswalk and turned to face Newland fully. "You know, what makes you think of the place, I haven't in years?" The tone of her voice was sultry, but the inflections in her voice let Newland know that she was still full of curiosity, and her eyes were bright and youthful.

"That's precisely what I wanted to talk to you about," Newland replied. The Krangston's Place has a ghost!" he said with a certain seriousness that made Francita want to listen further.

"A ghost you say? Is this speculation or have you witnessed this with your own eyes Mr. Hanford?" She used his last name to let him know that she was skeptical, but was considering believing him.

"Well, there were stories in the papers about a crime scene there. It took place years ago, long after they played there as children. That's the reason I wanted to talk to you about it right now,” Newland went on explaining.

He was caught off guard just a little bit at something he saw in her eyes. It made him hesitate. He paused for a few moments. Something exciting happened inside him when he spoke to her about this. Her eyes sparkled. He walked her up to the front of the house where she stayed and worked. She stood on the porch looking down at him as they exchanged words. Francita had to get back to Maestra Doria and make the tea for her and Gretchel. The pantry was empty of tea and that would never do she thought to herself alongside of listening to Newland. Becoming more and more keenly aware of the time she shifted in the place where she stood, switching the weight of her body from her right foot to her left.

"Would you like to join me in the kitchen please? I have work to do, you can tell me about this over tea,” she said interrupting him finally. "Newland," she repeated because he had not yet heard her. "Newland?"

He stopped talking when he finally realized she wanted a response.

"Hey, no no! The kitchen is no place for me. That's why I'm asking that we plan a specific time for us to meet. Perhaps I can come back later. I know Maestra Doria keeps you very very busy and I don't really think that it's a good idea for me to come in and discuss this with you over tea.

"Well it could be nonsense, Newland." Francita said this folding her arms across her chest. She was careful not to let the bag knock against the door.

"I know it sounds like nonsense, but I assure you that I saw it. Can we schedule a time for us to get together and walk over there? I want your thoughts on the place. I want to know what you think about it."

"Come back around 7 this evening. Maestra Doria and her guest should be done by then. So, when the moon's up I'll meet you here in the atrium? Perhaps we can walk abroad the town just a bit." Francita replied looking out into the distance, over Newlands head as he stood on the Meastra's steps. Then she made eye contact with him again. "This will be an informal inspection of the Krangston's Place, am I correct? I just want to make sure that I dress appropriately for the occasion."

"Yes, Lady Francita." Newland nodded his head up and down happy to finally get a reply from her. "It's informal, absolutely, the Krangstons's Place." He began to walk backwards indicating that he would be on his way and leaving now. He used his hands to express himself as he continued to back away. No doubt his mind was already preoccupied with his office work. She knew he had to be getting back. "We would basically be revisiting childhood memories if you don't mind a walk down memory lane?"

"But of course, not Sir Newland. I suppose I can look at it that way. I will see you then."

Part 2

They met up at 7 as promised right outside the house where Lady Francita worked and lived. There was a lamp post just outside of the atrium and when she came to the door that is where she saw him. It was completely dark outside except for a quarter moon that lit the deep blue night time sky and the 2 lamp posts at either end of the road.

He stood in the street and when he saw her he stepped up onto the path that was a side walk and he waited there for her with his hand outstretched toward her.

"Shall we walk my lady?"

Her long trench coat hung open and she wore a tan silk scarf over her head the way one would wear a hood. Her bangs rested softly against her forehead. She tucked her scarf in at the collar of her coat and replied "We shall," with a smug smile on her face.

They began to walk. It was about a quarter mile walk to the Krangston's place where they used to play as children. A family lived just next door to the place. Gregory was the boy who used to play with them there, but he had long since moved away. Neither of them ever knew to where.

The roads were mostly empty and as they walked, she placed her arm in the bend of his.

"So, I've been on this case for some time now. Do you recall that the Krangston's Place used to be open as though it was lived in?"

"Yes, I recall. We used to knock, but no one would ever answer and we would just walk right in. We could run through those halls and scream and play for hours before either of our parents sent word for us to return home. The only place I've ever visited to this day that was fully furnished and kept in decent condition even though no one kept the grounds there."

"Well Francita, that's what I want to talk to you about. There is someone tending to the place now. It's a woman, I think. She dusts there, and tends to the linens. I saw her open the curtains one morning. I was on my way to the sheriff’s office to drop off some reports that he'd placed up on the request board in the lobby there,” Newland explained.

"You don't say! How can you be sure? There has never been anyone at the Krangston's Place. It's a private property, even we were not supposed to play there as children. Has something changed in the town hall?" Francita asked.

"No nothing that I know of has changed. I have checked, the paper work remains the same. No one is allowed on the premises at the Krangston's Place. So, I did what any curious detective might do." Newland paused and took out a small note pad from the inside of his jacket pocket. " I knocked when I saw her. I thought we caught each other’s eyes momentarily. She never came to the door though."

"Well, Newland did you see what she looked like?"

"Here. This is a sketch of the woman from what I could glimpse." He flipped open a note pad that he'd taken from his pocket. He held it in his hand and placed it where Francita could see as they passed beneath the next lamp post. In the drawing, Francita could make out that there was a woman looking out of the front window at the Krangston's Place from behind the drapes. The details of the woman’s face were very vague, she thought to herself.

"Newland that is the face of every woman here in Scottsville." She tried to soften the insult with a curve of her lips as she looked directly at him. There was a brief pause, and then they began to walk again. He returned his note book to his pocket and they were again walking arm and arm to the House.

They were almost there. Just down the road and they could both see the front of the Krangston's Place. It stood erect at the end of a long side road which branched off from the main town road. They just had to make it beneath the underpass and they would be a few yards within the Place. As they walked along beneath the underpass they both focused their attention on the Place. Astonished at what they both saw in the distance they paused to look at each other.

"Did you see it Francita, it's just as I told you, someone is there?"

"Yes, yes Newland I saw it alright. A light!" Her mouth was open in surprise.

"She must have turned it out," he said.

"Surely lights don't just turn themselves out in a Place like that."

"Do you want to continue? I can't promise you what or who we will find."

Francita stood there nodding her head in disbelief. She had not anticipated actually observing that there was indeed life at the Krangston's Place.

"Do you suppose they heard us coming?"

"Or saw us,” Newland added as he nodded his head up and down in agreement with Francita.

"Well, we can continue walking, but what will we do when we arrive there?"

They decided that since it was dark and likely that there was someone in the Krangston's Place that it might be better to go back home and try again on the next day when there was still some day light. They also decided that it would be best to bring some tools with them. They would be better prepared the next time they decided to visit to the Krangston's Place.

Part 3

It was the next day and Lady Francita had already planned her line of defense in case she should meet face to face with the mysterious person at the Krangston's Place. She collected a note pad and pen, salt and fire just in case she had the opportunity to do an incantation. She had learned about these from one of the sisters who visited the maestra at the place where she lived and worked. She had had a relative who was stuck between worlds and they wanted to help her cross over, the sister took time to explain once. Francita had watched the sister and the maestra practice the incantation and felt that she could perform the ritual herself if necessary. Especially with Newland's participation, whatever was going on at the Krangston's Place she felt that together they could surely handle it this way. It was an opportunity as she saw it. If it was as he had mentioned, indeed a ghost, she gathered another tool as well as she thought about this, she wanted something to help her read the energy at the house. It was an electromagnetic contraption that she never had to opportunity to use before. Newland was on his way to come and meet her at 5pm today. They were going to walk there after his shift at the office and after Francita had put dinner away for Maestra Doria to have later.

He came just on time in the same way that he had on the previous day. He waited for her in the street beneath the lamp post which at present was not yet lit. Francita reached for her trench coat on the hanger near the door that lead into the atrium. She took her scarf from the hanger, an emerald green one this time. She placed it on her head the way one would a hood. She fixed her scarf into her collar and stepped out into the atrium which lead to the front door of the house. When he saw her, Newland's face lit up. He stepped up onto the pavement and stood waiting for her to descend the stairs.

Holding his arm out to her he said,

"Shall we my lady?"

She replied, "We shall."

Arm and arm they began to walk the quarter mile to the Krangston's Place.

Part 4

When they were just crossing beneath the underpass they both looked at each other curiously. There was a light on again. Francita removed her shoes which made a loud tapping noise against the asphalt. Newland waited up for her. Then they continued walking. When they reached the front door they both paused and stared at one another. They could almost sense a presence. It was as if someone was home. Newland was the one who checked the knob. To his surprise, it was unlocked and the door swung open with the slightest creak.

"Do you think that we should enter, Newland? We know that she or someone is here."

"Well if we want to get to the bottom of this we have to proceed Francita. She does not answer when called to and she just closes the curtains if we hang outside." Newland sounded moderately convincing.

They entered the front door. There was a stair case just a few feet ahead beyond the front of the door. There was a rug with threads of navy blue and crimson red and black and white and thin strips of yellow. It was carpet for a porch or a house. Whichever someone preferred. It had been the carpet at the Krangston's Place entrance since Francita and Newland were children.

"Do you think that we should?" Francita asked Newland hesitantly with her fingers on the knob of the door. He had passed her and was already inside the house when she asked. She had been quickly absorbed into her memories when at first, she'd seen the carpet. She quickly returned to herself and sought out where to Newland had gone by following the glow of his flashlight.

"We can use this lamp light here, since you didn't bring a flashlight." Newland handed Francita a small lamp from off of the end-table in the well-furnished living room area. He wound the knob turning up the fire in the lamp which illuminated the darkness of the downstairs with a soft yellow ambient glow. She took it into her hand by the handle. She too began to walk around the Krangston's Place listening for a presence in the house and sniffing for any scent that might indicate that someone was there. Someone besides them. Someone who they thought did not necessarily belong there.

The staircase was placed centrifugal in the downstairs of the house. Beyond the stair case was the entrance to the wine-cellar. On the left side of the stair case was a hallway and to the left of the wall that lined the hall was the living room. Through the living room there were columns that divided it from the dining room. Through the dining room to the right was an entrance to the kitchen and pantry. You could stand in the kitchen and see the closed cellar door through a door to the left. Francita could walk around the isle and find her way into another sitting room. She had memorized the shape and rooms of the house from when she played there as a child. The sitting room was the grandest and largest room of the house. It lined the entire right side of the stair case opposite the wall of the hallway. Francita made her way around the downstairs full circle before again halting at the front of the stair case.

"I have stood here many times before," as she said to herself.

As she looked up the stairs she saw that the chandelier hanging atop the first landing swayed slightly to and fro. "Newland, is that you?" she asked. She listened for a moment, but there was no reply. Checking behind her, the front door was closed. Francita held the light up and began to walk up the stairs slowly and steadily. The illuminating light from the lamp bobbed up and down on the walls that enclosed the stair case as Francita made her way up the landing. When she reached the first landing she thought that she observed Newlands light in one of the rooms. She called out to him again. "Is that you Newland?" Still, there was no reply.

Francita's breathing picked up pace and she became more keenly aware of her heart pounding in her chest. It beat lightly at first, and then more so with each step she took ascending up to the second landing that lead to the hall which lead to the master bedroom and the other rooms on that level. The floor creaked with each step that she took and so she figured that if she paused long enough in the hall that she would hear Newland. She paused and waited, but nothing happened, not at first. There was no sign of him. She decided to proceed. She walked slowly until she stood before the door of the room that was closest to the top of the stairs at the second landing. It was here that she thought she had seen Newlands' light. She peered into the room, but all that she could see was old wooden furnishings and long hanging tapestry against windows. Francita peaked her head into the room. The door seemed to creak, but that did not give her pause. She peered in a little more and there in the distance a long dark shadow seemed to appear before her. It rose slowly and eerily, and looked 'feminine' Francita thought. Not realizing that her lamp light was still out of the room, Francita was startled at the deep darkness of the figure before her. As she peered into the room at the shadow fear rose up within her and she gasped a loud gasp. It was almost a scream, but not quite. She turned to run out into the hall. She reached the first landing; the chandelier was swaying violently and the light of the lamp quivered like a shivering leaf against the stair case walls. Francita turned to go down the stairs, her feet skipped briskly across the woven carpet as she reached the front door. She reached for the knob frantically and turned it. The knob clicked and the door opened and then she ran out onto the front porch and was shocked when she fell into the arms of the one who was there to patrol the house with her.

"Newland! What are you doing out here? I thought that you were inside, with me?"

"Francita, I couldn't find you inside and so I came out here. I called to you but you did not answer."

"I... I saw her Newland!" Francita began to explain breathily. Her chest rising and falling quickly beneath her coat. Her eyes were bright with fear, and still green like the sea. They shone with the light of the moon which touched the porch and cast their shadows tall against the red door with white rectangles and the stonewashed wall of the porch. "We should go Newland."

Francita did not wait for him to reply before she turned on her heels and marched off of the porch and onto the paved path that lead to the road that would lead them to the underpass that would take her home and him back to the office. It was night fall and she just wanted to get back to the place that she knew. The place that she called home.

Part 5

Francita awoke the next day and got right to her chores. She made breakfast and lunch and placed both into the cold storage space. Francita dusted the mantles and the window sills and tied back the curtains with brass rings to let in the sun light. She was surprised again when at mid-day there was a knock at the front door, and even more so that it was for her. It was Newland.

"Newland I'm surprised to see you here again today, whatever is this about?"

"We have to go back and visit the Krangston's Place. One last time. I thought that if we went in full day light that we'd be sure to find out what's going on there. You know, I want to see if anyone is there. I want to buy the place."

"What? When did you arrive to this conclusion? The Krangston's Place huh?" Fracita came out of the front door closing it behind her so that their voices would not echo. She looked around to see who was outside if anyone. The roads were bare. There was only Newland. She folded her arms across her chest and leaned in closer to hear what he had to say.

"Well, it's where we played when we were young Francita and I want to secure the place. Deputy Humphry will be retiring soon and the town will need someone to run the security around here. What place would be better than the Krangston's for me to live if the town chooses me?" His thumbs pointed at his chest and he had a slight smile on his face. His eyes beamed with a sort of striking pride, but Francita was confounded.

"But there is someone there Newland! Didn't you hear me last night. There was a woman in the room. I mean you saw her as well!"

"Well that's why I want to go and sweep the place for this phantom woman. Will you go there with me today?" He paused and gathered what response he could from Francita's expression. Clearly, she did not plan to go there again.

She thought for a second to herself staring off into the blue sky in the distance. Newland stood aside letting his question sink in. He had other questions to ask her, but this was the only way in that he knew might work. In his heart, he was lost in her sparkling seafoam green eyes and her almond complexion. The pauses that she took before making a decision stole his heart away. He'd never tell though. He planned to buy the house and marry her. Yes, he wanted Francita. He took off his hat briefly to disguise his nervousness. She'd never notice anyway.

"Well, if we went one more time...while the sun is shining, I suppose it would not hurt...if you promise not to leave my side." With that last statement, she turned to look at him in the eyes.

"I won't leave your side. We'll scout the place out together."

She paused again before answering.

"Oh, alright. Perhaps just this one more time. If the woman is there or whoever it may be, what will we say to her? Leave!?"

"You leave that part to me, now. Just bring your incantation."

"How do you know if I have an incantation?" Her eyes went wide and her face went pale. Her lips were shiny red today, like rubies. Newland smiled to himself as he thought about all of the things that he knew about Francita from them growing up together. She would never know. He shook his head and wondered if he would ever get to tell her. At that they had planned to visit the house that afternoon once again. They wanted to settle it once and for all. They both wanted the Krangston's Place. They had hidden their child hood treasures there. Treasures that were merely their memories.

At precisely 3pm they found themselves at the underpass. At 3:15 pm they were back at the Krangston's Place. Again, no one answered and they walked into the house. This time Francita went in and gathered the lantern herself and made sure it lit up. Newland had his tool, the flash light to guide his way. That evening by sunset, Newland left the house and stood on the porch waiting for Francita, but she never came out to meet him; she never came out that night or any other night. She never met Newland on the porch with the stone wall and red door with the white rectangles. Newland, because his office was on the way, still thought he saw a woman, a ghost, someone at times when he passed by the Krangston's Place.


Author Introduction:


As a publisher of short works for over a decade, in 2015 I began to write my first novel, The Deje Chronicles. This memoir-eques, three-part novel set me on a path where immediately after beginning I found deep satisfaction in the authentic application of immersion. What began as one story quickly branched off in many directions and special interests. My second novel, The Brinbridge Atonement, completed in 2016, is evidence of my diverse passions as a writer and my desire to function as both a historical and futurist novelist. American born and raised, as a youth having an ingrained affinity for the genre of jazz and classical music set me on a career path to becoming both a lyricist and a performing artist. These essential inclinations in my formative years have greatly contributed to my unfurling career path and determination as a published author.

I studied at the Graduate School of Temple University and through later personal correspondent endeavors I was able to participate in humanitarian efforts as a liaison, and in that played a role in other ventures that have touched many parts of the globe. My most recent endeavors as a result of those experiences include launching a program geared toward education enrichment programs for both youths and adults. The focus of these programs includes providing a wide range of accessibility to development opportunities for persons interested in musical, textile arts, literary, and scientific studies and theory. Pursuing avenues that open up options to individuals with similar interests who desire further development in them, adds personal value to my life story and to my love of the arts.

My personal interests include being a wine connoisseur and studying the sciences of cheese making. I am a mother of 4 children, and a wife when I am not functioning in my professional capacities. I enjoy remote living in the U.K. where my virtual office bridges my private and professional life. Over the next fiscal year, I plan to publish two more novels, and for their release dates to be in 2018-2019 by the year's end.

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See Novel at:https://amzn.to/3k4zmE0

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