Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Manor on the Moor: A Letter in the Gothic Style: Letter the Fourth

Letter the Fourth

To Miss E— Notingham
Henrow House, —shire

2nd October 18—

My Dearest E—,

I continue my Narration with no more interruptions, for I must and will finish this Tale for you. I too am anxious to unburden myself of it, and this History will no doubt live on in our family. I trust for this reason you will retain my letters to you that we may entertain our children and they in turn their own children with tales of my Adventure, what one may say is currently my only claim (though I trust it will not long remain so) to Fame.

So, as I have said, I reached the landing accompanied by the woman Mrs Forbeson had named Jane. She gave me a friendly smile and began to lead me past an immense tapestry, the colour of which was so faded that I could make out neither picture nor pattern. As we walked in oppressive silence, I ventured to address her thus,
“Miss Jane” – for I had no other name for her – “Would you be so good as to describe to me what this place is?”
Miss Jane turned to me with a sad smile (though I was glad to see she did not amend my address to her) and said softly, “Even I do not properly know what it is, Mr Notingham, and it has been my home for eighteen long years.”
I enquired as to her birthplace, and she sorrowfully replied, “This very house, Mr Notingham.”
As we entered the dim chamber where I was to repose, I studied at length her Angelic features, not unlike, now that I saw the likeness, the face of that beautiful dancing Lady. Miss Jane, however, was pale, and fair, and less Aristocratic and more Gentle in Countenance. She was altogether more pleasing in aspect, and I begged her to enlighten me as to the house’s history. She assented, and seated herself on a dilapidated Ottoman Seat, the likes of which I have never before seen in our house. She began to tell me the tale of the building.

“This house once belonged to a very great and very rich Knight, who married a poor lady with whom he had fallen in love. But on their Wedding-Night she revealed herself to be a great Countess. This Countess, having come of age, had chanced to see the Knight riding out one day and had fallen madly in love with him. But, not wishing to enter into a Marriage with a man who chose her simply for her wealth, the Countess had disguised herself as a poor woman and had entered into the Knight’s service. At length the two fell in love and so great was the Knight’s passion that he married her despite her apparent poverty. When she revealed her true position in the world on the night of their Marriage the Knight was overjoyed, and her happiness could not have been more complete.

“But the Knight was by nature Greedy, and the wealth which his wife brought to the marriage was not enough for him, despite his passion, to so easily overcome. The Countess, to protect her own interests, was to retain control of her own fortune; the Knight could not touch it without her permission. For a long while this was immaterial, and both husband and wife were happy with each other and their love for one another. But the Knight, one evening, decided to throw the most magnificent ball that had e’er been seen this side of Christendom, to celebrate the anniversary of his marriage to the Countess. The Knight spared no expense, and in short, it was the most lavish and exquisite evening that had ever been seen. The Knight, unawares, had spent his entire fortune on the entertainments, which were spectacular. He threw his money away wildly, convinced that he would easily be able to live off the Countess’ fortune alone. He soon learned, however, that the Countess, having seen the way in which he spent his money – wildly and without restraint – was decidedly against letting him have so much as a penny, for Fear of his wasting it all and leaving the two of them Destitute. Aware of this, the Knight quickly grew angry and jealous. The Countess had already begun to show a coldness towards him, and what is more, an inclination towards another, younger man who was often in the house and who was the Nephew of the Knight. The Knight, torn by what he saw as a disloyalty, vowed to destroy the Countess and lay a hold, if he could, on her fortune…”

This is where I must leave you now, my Dearest Sister, but do not fear for my Safety or Health, for indeed I am well looked after.

Your Loving Brother,

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