The Long Game

A Good Man Mourned

Mina's father, Dr. William M. Murray, was dead.

He had lain down for a short afternoon repose soon after their conversation and drifted away quietly in his sleep. One of the maids had found him after he had missed several afternoon appointments.

Mina was devastated.

Her father, always a constant comfort and gentle guide in her life, was gone from her. Forever.

Her only consolation in her misery was that she and her father had parted their last day on amicable terms.

And that, if there was an afterlife, her father and mother were now reunited in a peaceful existence. Perhaps they were even dancing. Mina's father had only disliked dancing after his wife, his dancing partner, was taken from his side too early in life.

Being her father's only child and only surviving family member in London, the responsibility of orchestrating his funeral and internment fell upon her shoulders.

Mina Murray sat in her father's parlor with his lawyer, Mr. Stephen Wilson. The once welcoming abode now held a dim, heavy gloom to its atmosphere. Upon the death of the master of the house, the curtains were drawn tightly in mourning. The clocks were all stopped and mirrors were all draped. The place that Mina Murray once called home now felt alien and unfamiliar to her. And so her heart and mind were heavy with loss and grief.

"Miss Murray, your father was a good man, one of the best I've ever known. He will be missed greatly."

Alexander and Renfield sat slightly apart, yet relatively close to Mina, having escorted her to the meeting upon her request. They were her chosen pillars of strength and reserve in her black grief. She now nodded to the older gentleman with his wire-rimmed spectacles and neatly trimmed moustache sitting across from her.

"Thank you, sir. My father spoke highly of you on many occasions."

The older man smiled solemnly.

"I understand that you are mourning this untimely passing. As your father's lawyer, please allow me to attend to your father's particulars for you, my dear."

Mina forced a polite smile, her decision already firm and unyielding in her mind.

"Thank you, sir, but I would prefer to attend to my father's arrangements personally. I will, of course, call upon you at a later date, to discuss the financial matters with Mr. Grayson's legal counsel, R.M. Renfield."

Renfield silently, politely, nodded an acknowledgment to Mr. Wilson as Mina spoke. The well-meaning lawyer held his composure but seemed slightly perturbed by the young lady's persistence.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Murray, but it not customary for a young woman to take to such matters herself. I will be most glad to take this burden from you so that you may not trouble yourself."

Mina felt her anger beginning to rise, which was a great deal easier for her to suffer than her crushing sorrow.

"My father's arrangements are no burden with which to trouble myself, sir," she replied, attempting to stay calm.

Mr. Wilson obviously was well versed neither in Mina Murray's headstrong personality nor her sense of responsibility toward her father. And, being a long time bachelor, he was not frequent to the emotions of an expressive woman.

"Miss Murray, I apologize, but there are certain proprieties of your social station that . . ."

Mina Murray stood abruptly, her frustration apparent. By gentile decorum, the three men in the room stood with her as well. For some reason she could not voice, this inflamed her temper all the more.

"Then may I live poor and starve in the streets so that I may mourn my father as I see fit!" she declared adamantly.

Stunned and completely out of his depth, Mr. Wilson tried once more for the sake of his dear friend, Dr. William M. Murray.

"Please Miss Murray, this is hardly proper behavior. Don't you believe that your father would want you to . . ."

Mina's anger set the entire room ablaze with the cold heat emanating from her blue eyes.

"Do not presume to tell me about my father! He was my father, not yours!"

At somewhat of a loss, Mr. Wilson glanced behind her to the abiding figures of Alexander Grayson and R.M. Renfield standing at Mina's attendance.

"Sirs," he inquired desperately, "will you not assist me to talking some sense into Miss Murray? I understand she is distraught over the death of her father and perhaps she will heed counsel from you."

As Mina's ire rose to alarming new heights, Alexander spoke up in a most calm, even tone.

"Sir, I assure you, Miss Murray, is perfectly capable of making her own sound judgments. And even if I wanted to guide her otherwise, which might I add that I have no intention whatsoever of doing, I have no doubt she would choose to follow only her own steady counsel."

Mina relaxed somewhat at Alexander's supportive words then spoke her final statement to the overwhelmed lawyer before her.

"Thank you for your work with my father for so many years. I know he appreciated your loyalty. You are, of course, expected at his memorial. Now please, sir, get out of my sight so that I attend to his final arrangements as I see fit."

Overwhelmed with her feelings of sorrow and loss, Mina simply concentrated on completing each task in its turn in hopes of reaching the end of a seemingly inexhaustible list of duties.

Alexander never left her side. He was grateful and thankful for the brutal electrocutions and burning serum process that enabled him to stay with his grieving Mina during the daylight hours. He remained a quiet support to her. He did not attempt to influence her decisions in any form, save for offering additional monetary support, which Mina of course refused.

During those daylight hours, Mina locked her emotions tightly away in an iron vault deep within herself as she prepared to lay her father's mortal form to its eternal rest. The focus required to deal with all the issues at hand enabled her to ignore her misery over the loss of her dear father.

At her insistence, Carfax Manor remained untouched by the death of her father. Mina refused to allow a single clock stopped, a single mirror draped, or a single window covered.

She willing explained herself to her supportive companions.

"I loved my father deeply. And I will always love him. But he would not wish for me to hide away in the shadows. He would wish for me to live. And here in this sanctuary, I can live and breathe."

And he who only wished to ease her suffering and heartache complied with her wishes. As did the man Renfield, who was growing to respect her all the more for her strength of character and independent nature.

At night, she lay in Alexander's arms and openly wept, releasing all her emotions she had refused during the day. The man who loved her deeply held her, quietly stroking her dark hair with slow, soothing movements.

And when her well of tears had run dry, she would feel empty, hollow, cleaned out. And then she would sleep and dream rich, vibrant dreams of her father.

On the day of his internment, the funeral bells tolled long and loud for Dr. William M. Murray. He had been well liked by a great many people, both rich and poor.

Mina clothed herself in traditional black attire. However, unlike many well-to-do women of her station, she wore no expensive monogrammed mourning clothing or jewelry. She adorned herself only a simple black dress and a covering for her hair. Alexander and Renfield remained by her side, wearing traditional black arm bands as their sign for mourning.

Though it was considered low-brow for Mina to attend the funeral itself, she went nevertheless. She was as unconcerned with her reputation as she had always been. She had once informed Alexander that only she could compromise her reputation and though her grief strickened her, she still held to that belief.

And now standing at her father's internment site, she and the other mourners gathered to pay their final respects. She did not allow the tears within her to flow. Alexander stood by her side quietly.

He lay a white rose upon the casket of Dr. William M. Murray as did Mina. Then he proffered a simple red rose to her. She took it stoically without a word.

She held it in light fingers, staring blindly at the place where her unseen father lay.

Afterward, the mourning party gathered at the house of one of Dr. Murray's close associates. Mina could not abide sullying her father's memory nor his house with the drunkenness that frequently typified the mourning crowd after the formalities were concluded.

She went home to Carfax Manor and wept in Alexander's arms once more.

The next day, she rose and declared that though she would always love and miss her father all her days, her public mourning had come to a end and she would not choose to hide away from the world.

She requested that Alexander accompany her for a soothing daylight stroll.

And so he did.

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