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Let's Misbehave: Chapter 3
Let's Misbehave: Chapter 3

Let's Misbehave: Chapter 3

Mitzi1776Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik

And I kept that promise, for after Barrett had departed for his hotel room closer to town and Ainsley began a walk around of the grounds to inspect the damage the storm had done, I took those faded papers to the conservatory and began my perusal of the life of Mistress Grace Legare. She did not write especially well, unfortunately, but as I began I decided that I must not judge her too harshly at the exposition of her narrative for, after all, she was a woman writing from 1893 (at least initially) and to be fair it was at least partly amazing that she could write at all.

I knew from the portrait that hung in the hallway that her diary, such as it was, could at best span the last seven years of her life, for she was to die in 1900, the day Ainsley was born. Strange to think that somewhere, this diary would just trail off never to be written in again, perhaps at the denouement there was a half finished entry, a few Ts not crossed, a few Is not dotted when she, Grace, decided that she would go back later but then never quite got the chance. Anyway, I banished all such thoughts of morbidity for this young lady’s story was just starting out on a cold autumn morning in 1893.

 

The 30th day of September, 1893

Dear Diary,

Our bed chamber was cold this morning. He, my husband, had left early. I woke up staring at the cream patterning of the ceiling and turned to my side to see that the bed was empty, apart from me. I do not feel prepared for this, that is to say marital life and the duties that come with it. I can speak French, draw, play the piano, sing and all the other things that ladies are supposed to be able to do when they finally become wives and yet no one told me what would happen between us. I had only met Gideon a few times before we were wed and even then, given that, on our wedding night he expected to take certain liberties with me. I wouldn’t have minded I don’t think if he would just talk to me, but he never talks to me. So, for that reason, I asked Nell (the kindly maid who I have had to entrust all my personal needs to) to supply me with a journal in which I can do all my talking. It's quite wonderful really. It feels safe to talk like this.

 

It was an odd initial entry, it could not be denied, but I could retrieve sense of her feeling in that. Even stranger perhaps was the fact that as I read the words, I could have sworn they were uttered by Grace’s voice (a voice which I had never otherwise heard) which I imagined was simply my mind giving her a sense of eternity, but seemed at least half sinister as a cloud of condensation formed on the window as if something were trying to cloud my view of the grounds just for long enough that it - whatever it was - could get away without being seen. It would not be the first slightly spectral happening in this place, after all. Was it really possible that Nell had had encounters with Grace Legare when she was first Grace Legare? I had so many questions to ask of her, both Nell and Grace as embodied by her vague writings. I would have had myself read further then, however, I was interrupted in my musings by Ainsley returning from his walkabout the grounds. He wore a grave expression which did rather suit him; as if he were a ridiculously handsome man about to tell me something melancholy and serious with all that due seriousness and melancholia written upon his face as it ought to be, stating plainly some important fact or other he had uncovered.

“Barrett’s right.” he said “The storm has fucked us.”

“Oh dear.”

“Yep, it's even gotten in here look.” he said, gesturing around the conservatory where I had cloistered myself “Oh no, mother’s chair.” he said, looking to the Victorian boudoir chair which lay on it’s side which I had not even noticed was out of place, beside it, lay the lantern Ainlsey had carried the previous night. Shattered.

“How do you suppose that happened?” I asked.

“The wind probably blew in from that broken pane of glass,” he looked up to that fracture as he reinstated his mother’s chair into its rightful erect position. “Yeah, there’s even some weird scratch marks up the gate posts, Helena’s window definitely did get smashed, I could see it even from the ground and the horses were spooked even when I went down there just now.”

“You went down to the stables just now? Its still soaking out there.”

“Yes, I guess I just wanted to clear my head a little. The stream had almost burst its banks from all the rain, but hopefully we’ll have a dry day tomorrow.”

“I don’t think we will.” I replied, looking out of the conservatory window to see the desolation of the estate which looked as if it had been hit by a bomb almost. “God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen storm damage this aggressive.”

“I have, only a few times though, mostly in my childhood, I don’t know how we’re going to deal with it though.”

“Ask Chester, he’ll know. Well, I mean if anyone has a chance it’s probably him.” I said forlornly. “What do you suppose caused those scratch marks?” I asked, remembering that he had mentioned some.

“Probably something getting chucked about in the wind.”

“Maybe.” I said, re tying the piece of worn, ageing cord around the now closed journal, keeping it shut.

“How is it?” Ainsley asked, looking to the journal as I placed it on the now upright chair.

“Oh, a riveting read; we have met a few good characters so far, a lonely wife, a strange if not slightly sadistic husband. Looking forward to next chapter.” I laughed.

“Oh Adalaide, I love you.” he smiled joyful.

“You love the fact that I am so cynical.” I smiled.

“I suppose.” He laughed. “But you love the fact that I love it.”

“I do.” I smiled. “I wouldn’t know how to be so close to someone so distant otherwise.”

“Am I distant?” He asked, clearly surprised, perhaps never having regarded himself as such. “If I am, its only because I struggle with this world a little.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, interested that some great revelation could be upon the horizon.

“Well, I struggle with how the world is changing.”

“I think we all struggle with that, the world now is not as the world was.”

“Yes, I think we are the last of La Belle Epoque.” he said, looking out of the window “We are the last of the aristocracy, the last generation of old money as I heard it called the other day, you know, for god’s sake, Barrett is renting!” he said indignantly.

“Our world is changing forever.” I smiled “We are the last of the British Empire.”

“We are.” he nodded. “You know, I read somewhere that is the Jazz Age.” he said.

“The what?” I asked.

“I read a book called This Side of Paradise and it said this is the Jazz Age, which, I think means, if it means anything, that we have entered a new age.”

“I could have told you that; the world was never going to be the same after all of that bloodshed in France.” I said, looking out to the fields.

“Oh God you’re starting to sound like Barrett.”

“No, no, I mean really; the world was never going to be the same at all. I mean, the world was never going to be different because of a lot of things. But then of course, each new age is just an age that is dying.”

“Or one that is coming to birth.” he paused “What things do you think changed the world?” he asked which seemed to be somewhat an afterthought.

“Well we have the vote now.” I said.

“No you don’t.” he said. “You’re not thirty - in twelve years you have the vote.”

“Ah yes, well, it was a nice idea.”

“And its funny that you think that the vote, if you had it of course, could actually make a difference. When they want to, they just send us off to die, vote or not.”

“I suppose.” I said, looking away from him.

“Voting gives you the illusion of choice; I’m surprised they haven’t extended the franchise to children, dogs, cats, horses, you name it.” he said “No matter how they vote, they can’t influence anything except the brightness of the streetlights.”

“Hey - maybe I care about the brightness of streetlights.” I said indignantly.

“Well that’s a shame, you can’t vote for another twelve years.” he laughed.

“You think you’re funny don’t you?” I laughed.

“Well, if i’m not, why are you laughing?”

“I suppose because the world as it is is so hopelessly begiuling.” I sighed. “You know, in all my years of living, that is to say, being alive, I have never once found another soul like me.”

“What about Helena?” he smiled.

“Fuck off.” I laughed.

“You know why you have never found anyone like you Adalaide? Its because there is no one like you.”

“So the only true company I will ever have is my reflection?”

“Perhaps, but only if that is the way you choose to see it.”

“My reflection and the ghosts that roam these halls.” I whispered to myself.

“What ghosts are those?” he asked.

“Oh I don’t know, its kind of this mist that I feel all around this place.” I replied, averting my eyes to the windswept fields. “Its dark in this place, Ainsley.”

“Then I will light a candle, or, you know what we could do if its so very dark, we could get one of those new electric lights.” he smiled.

“No, Ainsley, that is why it is so very dark.”

“What do you mean?” he asked tentatively.

“Our world is dying.” I whispered. “I’m ashamed to admit it but it makes my soul burn.”

“What world is this?”

“La Belle Epoque.” I sighed “I long for it.”

“You hardly knew La Belle Epoque, Adalaide.” he whispered. “The war broke out when you were twelve.”

“I know, perhaps that is why I long for it; the desire to live out my life in a world of beauty.”

“You think the Victorian era was beautiful?” he laughed. “Ha! That is because you never lived in it.”

“Perhaps.”

“Do you think people were happy?”

“So you do not long for it? An era before war, before shell shock, an era of corsets and bustles.”

“I did not say I did not long for it, only that it is foolish to long for it. And not everyone has shell shock.”

“Some of them do though.” I said.

“What do you know of that?” he said “You used to be a delicate flower, you knew nothing of this world.”

“No, you thought I knew nothing of this world, Ainsley, you thought I was a delicate flower. You think that each night you were away I didn’t prey you wouldn’t come back mamed, killed or traumatised?”

“Did you prey for Lawrence?” he asked.

“What has this got to do with Lawrence?” I asked indignantely.

“Oh, this has everything to do with Lawrence. You dream of La Belle Epoque because you think if the war had never happened you could have married him and lived out some fairytale life in The Music Room.”

“The Music Room?” I shouted “That fucking place Barrett wants to rent for Lawrence?”

“Yes, you think you want that life. But you don’t.”

“I don’t. I love you, I have only ever loved you.” I whispered. “I could never love Lawrence hes - well, he’s - “ I broke off, not wishing to expel some intimate revelation about his personal life.

“Don’t say that.” he said, shaking his head. It was that other great thing that we never uttered but all knew; for to utter it, even just once, would be to draw Barrett into question and that was something Ainsley couldn’t stand to do. And Helena couldn’t comprehend it. It was so utterly strange what happened next; Ainsley smacked me across the face before grabbing hold of my wrists, placing them around his neck, and lifting me from the waist before placing me over the piano. I won’t detail what occurred next, but I can say, quite definitely that it was very pleasant indeed.

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About The Author
Mitzi1776
Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik
About This Story
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Posted
22 Feb, 2023
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2,126
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