I had lost Sammy, and I felt the loss keenly. I missed having someone to talk too, some to tell all my secrets too. Losing a friend is truly like losing a part of your soul. Yet, at the same time, I gained uncle Andrew.He had always been kind to me, but after that time in my room, he became gentle and affectionate in a fatherly way. That conversation had brought us closer. I still didn’t see much of him; Uncle Andrew always had business to attend too, but he would make time for me every day. In the evenings I would read to him, or he would read to me, then I would practice my music for him and he would complement me while at the same time encouraging me to do better.
I only wished I could have the same connection with my aunt Helen, but we were distant. I tried my best to please her, to do things the way she liked. I did manage to get her to not always been upset with me, but I never quite accomplished what I wanted most from her. I couldn’t get her to love me! I couldn’t even get her to fully approve of me. I was incomplete in her eyes, I was something that shouldn’t have happened, and I guess that hindered her from being able to like me. What made it harder was there was no one to pour my heart too, with Sammy gone. I didn’t feel comfortable complaining to uncle Andrew, I didn’t want him to feel bad that my aunt couldn’t love me. Before I had always had Sammy’s listening ear, now Sammy was gone, but still I needed someone to talk too about matters of the heart. So I turned to the one person on earth I felt I could truly trust. Elsie. Elsie was wise and mature beyond her years. She would always hear me out and comfort me, while at the same time trying to help me to understand my aunt. Pretty soon Elsie became my confident in everything...almost everything. There was one topic on which I wanted most to talk to someone about, but it was the one topic that I had to avoid. The topic of my illegitimacy.
My aunt’s cold attitude towards me did not make me feel any easier about it. I was constantly clouded with the feeling that maybe I was a mistake after all; maybe it would have been better for everyone if I hadn’t been born. What was the meaning of my life if I was a burden to everyone? Was my one purpose in life to simply cover up the fact of who and what I really was? It was the only dark cloud that hung me day and night in an otherwise very happy atmosphere. I knew everything everyone thought about me was a lie, and I often wondered would they all still like me if they ever knew the truth? Would Em still tell me that I was as much a dear as my mother was, would Ben still tell me that watching me grow was just like the joy of having Evelyn growing up for a second time. Would my tutor still be as praising and content with me? What if the dark secret was to come out, what would they think of me? The only people I could be fully sure of were my uncle and Elsie. I knew that no matter what people said about me, Elsie would never leave me or think any worse of me for being a bastard. It was a very comforting peace of knowledge. As for Uncle Andrew, he was the only one who knew the full truth and didn’t seem to mind. He was so busy though, I didn’t want to burden him with my little cares. So I kept them to myself and would brood over them from time to time, when feelings of despair would come over me. At moments like those I would press to mother’s old dress and talk to her. I would ask her about everything and wish she could answer me. Silence was the only answer I ever got and I realized that silence was the only answer I would ever get and I would just have to be content with it.
One more important event that happened in my childhood was the appearance of Jeff in my life.
The March of 1850 found me traveling away from the Greensten Estate. My uncle was the second of three brothers. The eldest lived at the family estate, known as the Greyhounds (why it was Greyhounds nobody every told me.). The youngest son, Jacob Greensten lived in a house in a town. I had never heard much about him, until one day, my uncle came and asked me if I would like to go with him to see his younger brother, who was very ill. I didn’t like the idea of staying alone in the house with Aunt Helen, so instantly agreed. On the road there, my uncle told me that his brother was dying and we would remain there until his passing. I hadn’t really counted on this, but I was already on my way and figured I would make the best of it. We got to the house, which though not large, was still nice and pleasant. It was there that I met Jeff. He was Jacob Greensten’s son. I still remember his boyish face, blond hair falling over his forehead and deep green eyes filled with concern and worry. Uncle Andrew introduced us and went straight to his brother, leaving me alone with Jeff.
“Where is your mother?” I asked after a couple of moments of silence.
“Dead,” he replied, “died four years back of a fever.”
“I’m sorry,” I sympathized, “my mother is also dead. She died two years ago.”
“My father is also dying,” he stated in a bitter tone, “and when he is gone I shall be an orphan.”
“I’m an orphan too,” I softly exclaimed. Not much comfort, but perhaps he would feel better if he knew he wasn’t alone. “And perhaps he shan’t die,” I added.
Jeff shook his head, “he will, just watch. I heard the doctor; he said there was no hope.”
I looked at the floor wondering what to say.
“How old are you?” He suddenly asked.
“I’ll be ten in a month, what about you?”
“I’ll be twelve in the summer.” He stated. “Do you like toy soldiers?”
“I…uh…I have never played with them before.”
“Come, I’ll show you mine.”
He didn’t have very many, but we divided them evenly and made two armies. He taught me how to play fight with them and soon we were playing war. Our game was interrupted by Uncle Andrew.
“Sarah,” he said, “my brother wishes to meet you.”
“Yes, come and meet my father,” Jeff completely forgot about the game and dragged me to my feet. I didn’t know if I wanted to meet him. I had stood at a deathbed once and did not want to go through it again, but how could I refuse? So I meekly followed Jeff to the bedroom.
Jacob Greensten was deathly pale and sallow. Whatever he was sick with surely made him look quite frightful. He did have the same deep green eyes that my uncle Andrew possessed and I just focused on them.
“Come here child,” he said in a frail voice, a voice that made me shudder. I had heard a voice in that tone before, it was the same way my mother spoke the night before she died. I walked up to the bed and after a moment’s hesitation haltingly took his hand.
“You look a lot like your mother, my dear."
Everyone always told me that. I would just have to get used to it.
“I am glad to meet you. I would have liked to meet you earlier, unfortunately, it was not possible.”
I smiled, not knowing what else to do.
“Ah, now that is your mother’s smile,” He said, “I hope you turn out better than she did! But it was not her fault! You told Sarah it was not her mother’s fault.” He turned to Uncle Andrew. I also looked at him in confusion.
“There, there, Jacob, relax, everything is alright,” My uncle soothed his brother.
What were they talking about? The look my uncle gave me made me understand that I was not to ask any questions, so I didn’t. Instead I told the dying man about my piano lessons and about my riding lessons and about the book I had read. I couldn’t understand why he so wanted to hear all this, but the wishes of the dying must be fulfilled and since he wanted to know, I told him. At last he gave a sigh and my uncle said that it would be best to let him rest. I placed a kiss on his withered hand and received a weak smile for it. I smoothed out his blanket and with a parting glance, turned to leave.
“It wasn’t her fault,” he called after me as I left, “don’t let anyone ever tell you that it was.”
What did he mean? Who’s fault? What fault?
What fault? Hmmmm? Is the story getting at least remotly interesting? I hope so :) More will be posted this week :D