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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.