I returned to my chamber and began to wonder how I could find out what was wrong with Dorian. I knew that it shouldn’t matter, seeing as I was no longer to wed him, but it still seemed to matter for Gabriella’s sake. Why did he put her here why did her father put her here? And why had neither of them ever come to visit? I considered writing him a letter but didn’t know how to begin. What business was it of mine, after all?
I sat alone in my chamber for a time, contemplating all the things that had come to light in the past twenty-four hours. I changed out of my still slightly damp dress and into a white and royal blue one. A soft knock at the door awoke me from my thoughts.
“Theodosia,” I heard a soft whisper. “Can we go to the White Woods?” it was Gabriella.
“What?” I asked.
“I want to see Kingston Grove, seen as this may be my last summer here. I don’t know where Charles lives, it could be miles away.” She said.
“If you want to.” I said, half hoping to be able to utilise this opportunity to see the house and possibly be struck by the reality of what had come to pass there. “I’ll get my bonnet.” It was not long until we were dressed and linking arms to begin the short walk to the White Woods.
As we walked, I was struck by the shortness of the walk. There was no excuse for not coming to visit a sister who lives such a short distance away, truly no excuse. The woodland was full of towering trees and small shrubs which were flowering with little yellow and white petals and voluptuous green leaves. This was a kind of paradise. The air was warm, and the yellow sun shone from between the canopy the leaves of the evergreen trees created. We followed along the yellow path before us. Gabriella looked truly at home here. The White Woods were her place. And Ravens’ Wood was mine. As we approached the house from the eastern wall, the white columns swam into view. Kingston Grove had a dome on top which lent it a kind of ecclesiastical quality. It was vast.
Gabriella’s step seemed to become lighter as she walked towards the estate, as if her soul had been lifted somewhat by seeing this pinnacle of her previous life. She almost ran towards the wrought iron gate which stood bolted shut, towering up in the forest. She pulled on it, it didn’t move. She shook it, it remained motionless, the only sound a loud rattle of metal bars. She kept pushing. It didn’t open for her.
“We should go.” I said quietly as I approached her.
“No!” Gabriella shouted, “I’m not leaving until I see my brother!”
“We have to. It’s the afternoon, he might be out on the plantation, there might not even be in the house.” My voice had a begging note.
“No, I’m staying here, I won’t leave until he comes.” She said definitely. I put my hand on her shoulder in the hope of calming her. I looked up towards the house and a man in neat jacket was trotting down from the main door. He began to shout as he approached us.
“Ladies, ladies, please be quiet.” It shouted. I didn’t know that voice. It wasn’t Dorian. “Lord Kingston is sleeping in his chamber, you mustn’t wake him.”
“I want to see my brother!” she shouted at him.
“Miss, that isn’t – “ he was cut off by the running footsteps of Dorian Kingston racing down the pebbled path. Gabriella’s face lit up with joy.
“Gabriella, you can’t be here.” He whispered to her through the gates. “Go back to Ceasebury.” He commanded.
“What?” she looked at him with incredulity. “I’m here to see you.”
“You can’t be, no one can know where you are.” He whispered, I sensed real alarm in his voice.
“I’m your sister, Dorian. You cared about me once, you loved me once!” she shouted.
“I do care, that’s why I’m doing this. Go home.” He said forcefully.
“Sir, do you want me to get Lord Kingston to deal with this?” the other man said.
“No!” Dorian said with alarm “Don’t do that, don’t tell anyone she was here, particularly not my father.” The man nodded.
“Look, Gabriella, I’m sorry, you need to leave.” He said, attempting to prize her hand from the gate. She wouldn’t release it.
“Gabriella, maybe we should go home, Dorian obviously doesn’t want to see us now.” I whispered. While I knew she would not accept it, I felt I needed to help her leave this place as I had a sense Dorian was asking her to leave for a reason. There was some reason for all of this.
“I won’t leave!” she screamed.
“Seriously, he’s going to hear.” Dorian said was a kind of fear in his voice. “You need to go home.”
“We should leave.” I said tentatively to her.
“Goodbye, Gabriella.” And with that he turned and walked back into the house, his servant trailing behind him. Gabriella fell to her knees.
“We need to go.” I said to her, helping her to her feet.
“I don’t want to go.”
“I know you don’t, but we have to.” I said firmly, beginning to lead her back the way we came. We began the long walk back through the woods, her yellow dress now soiled by the bark she had knelt on. “Try to be happy, Captain LeBolt will write back to you soon. You’ll be able to leave Ceasebury if you marry him. I don’t think Dorian will let you go back to Kingston Grove.” I sighed. She looked back at me with tearful eyes that seemed to understand I was right, she wouldn’t be going back to Kingston Grove. Not yet.
“I think I should truly love to be married to a wonderful man.” Gabriella whispered.