An Almost-Altercation and Forbidden Friends

It is just after lunch now, and I have not, indeed, finished hemming all the napkins Mrs. Dogwood gave me. The stack was much bigger than I first thought it to be! So I divided it into half, and did half this morning and will finish the rest tonight before bed. I know how tired I always am after my lesson with Professor Eberhart, so I really must get them done before supper, as immediately after supper, I go upstairs to his office, and immediately after that, I fall into bed.

I suppose that nothing much of interest has happened today. The sun has not been seen for several days due to the low, thick cloud cover. Sometimes there is fog in the morning, crawling over the white-frosted grass and slinking through the frozen tree branches in the forest. It is very beautiful to see from my window, but very eerie as well. Thankfully, the clouds keep the warmth closer to the ground, so although it looks very dull and wintry outside, at least it is not freezing.

Oh dear, there I am talking about the weather again. How terribly dull.

Perhaps one interesting thing happened today. Mr. Miller and I almost had a row. (Though I shall not continue the suspense, and say now that we made up immediately and all is well again.)

At breakfast, I innocently asked why he wore his neck cloth all the time. He moved a thumb across his throat to indicate the gash, and I nodded. "I understand," I said, "but why keep it covered?"

"UGLY," he wrote on the table between us.

"But it is a part of you, as my... crooked nose is a part of me," I went on, neither confirming or denying his declaration. True, his scar is not pleasant to look upon, and it is rather shocking to see for the first time, but I think that if he went around without the cloth around his neck, people would not be so shocked by it. Indeed, not much of it shows above the collar of his shirt, anyway.

He shook his head, and began to write on the table again, but I stopped him with my hand over his when he got as far as "FRIGH--" when he meant, I am sure, to write "FRIGHTENING."

"I do not think it is frightening," I said softly, then slowly withdrew my hand.

"NO," he wrote, and "underlined" it, then looked up at me sternly.

"It is quite old-fashioned," I muttered, thinking of the grandfathers I had seen in town back home, with cravats tucked up to their chin and pinned with a bit of gold or silver or, for the poorer among them, copper. "I do not see why a--"

Mr. Miller banged his palm down on the table, making our coffee cups rattle on their saucers. "NO," he wrote again, and underlined it twice. "REMINDER," he wrote, and looked sulkily away, surely thinking of the day the wound that caused the scar was given to him.

The noise caused by his violence had startled me, and I sat in silence, too shaken to speak or eat. Eventually, though, I sipped at my coffee, then finished my sausage, all without looking up at him. I was only trying to help him feel more confident about himself, and to let him know how... well, how unusual he looked, a young man wearing something that was the mark of men two generations older than he. I really did not mean any harm, but apparently the subject was a sore one.

I pushed my chair back from the table and set my napkin down, but Mr. Miller leaned across the table and touched my sleeve before I could stand. "Bernice," his mouth said without any sound, and our eyes locked.

"I am sorry," I said softly, finally dropping my gaze. "How you dress and conduct yourself is no business of mine. I know that I do not understand... the entire story."

After a moment, he tapped the table to get my attention, and I looked up at him again. He pointed at me, then at his nose, then shook his head as he made a zigzag line in the air, and I smiled. "Your nose is not crooked," he was saying.

"Thank you," I replied in hand speech, by bowing my head and touching my forehead with two fingers, like a little salute. "I should go. I have a lot of sewing to get done, and you are... moving furniture?" He nodded. "That's right, so they can polish the floor in the dining hall, you told me. I shall see you at lunch." He nodded, and we parted in the hallway, I to my work and he to his.


I have only just realized that it is the week-end now! All of my days here have begun to blur together, so that I must think hard (or check my diary here) to remember what day, exactly, I drew water from soil, and what day Mr. Miller arrived, and so on. But in the middle of the afternoon, just now, I noticed no bell to signify the end of the class period. I can hear the bells faintly from where I am situated in the building, but I can hear them, only I hadn't all day.

I do not know what difference it makes. I suppose I am only making the point that I have little idea of the date any more. Perhaps in addition to this diary, I need a little calendar in which I can write notes of things that have happened or will happen. Perhaps I can walk into town tomorrow and get one. I have been curious to see the city since I arrived, but as tomorrow is a Sunday, I think I can go freely without feeling guilt over the "chores" I should be doing, and perhaps Mr. Miller could be spared to accompany me. I shall ask the professor this evening.


As usual, I am exhausted, post-lesson. But I must put this all down while it is fresh in my mind. Forgive me if this makes little sense or contains mistakes.

First let me say that my Illumination is growing day by day. Professor Eberhart seems to put great stock in the horrid puzzles he gave me, saying my patience has grown and I seem milder (whatever that means), but I think it is really just because I am determined to succeed, and I have been applying myself to the fullest. At any rate, I am building great structures with the toy blocks, and I am getting faster and faster at it, so they seem to fly out of the box, through the air, and onto one another within a matter of moments (though I have not yet mastered the skill of doing it quietly; the wood makes a great clatter, with all the blocks banging against one another). In addition, the marbles given to me speed through the little wooden maze without even touching the tiny walls! Only two days ago, the marble was forever knocking into the walls, making me flinch with each hollow "thok" sound!

To continue: I was tiring myself out by sending all the blocks into their box, then up into a tower, then back and forth again and again. The professor watched from his chair, glaring slightly when a block tumbled out of the arrangement and hit the floor (though I've nearly mastered the skill of catching the ones that fall!) and nodding with calm satisfaction each time I did it perfectly.

Suddenly the door flew open and a boy about my age entered the room, out of breath and with dark, disheveled hair. "Prof--" He stopped short when he caught sight of me, and all the blocks, which were mostly in mid-air, tumbled onto the carpet with a terrible racket. I flinched and froze, terrified that I'd been caught out, but the boy only said, "You've got another one!" to the professor, and smiled at me. But then he seemed to remember why he had come, and turned to the professor again. "It's Ivy, sir," he said, looking quite grave.

"Yes, what about her?" the professor asked, in his same calm, slow voice tinted with a Germanian accent.

"She..." the boy glanced at me uneasily. "It's like last time," he said evasively.

That got the professor to his feet. "Where is she?" he asked.

"The usual spot," answered the boy. Clearly he didn't trust me, as I was "another one," though I did not yet know what he thought I was.

"Let us go, then," said the professor, going around the desk and toward the door. "Miss Gar--Greenwater," he caught himself just in time, "please return to your room. I shall see you tomorrow." He turned to the boy, then. "Lucas, tell anyone about her, and you will regret it."

"Of course, sir, I understand," he said, and followed the professor out the door, leaving me alone in his office.

I returned all the blocks to the chest they stayed in when I was not practicing with them, but did not return to my room. I wanted answers, and remained in the chair in where I had first sat in that room until Professor Eberhart returned, presumably to lock up for the night.

"What are you still doing here?" he demanded, seeing the lamp still on and me sitting near his desk.

"He said you had another one," I said softly. "Another what, sir? What... what does he think I am?"

"Illuminated," he said brusquely. "As was obvious from what you were doing when he so unwisely burst into my office." He approached the desk and gathered a few stacks of papers into his arms.

"So in addition to me, there is...?"

"Are. Other students here at the school."

"That... that are Illuminated?" I asked, shocked to say the least. He nodded. "Why did you not tell me?"

"They would want to know who you were, where you came from. I know these children, and they are not satisfied with simple lies. Some of them might even figure out the truth, and then trouble could come, knowing your real name, your real story." He shook his head. "You keep to your rooms, Miss, and your friend, Mr. Miller. Do you understand?" He looked up at me suddenly, mechanical eye whirring. "This is important. Disobey, and you will be turned away from this school and my hospitality, Gift or no Gift."

I understood completely. I depended solely on Professor Eberhart now; if not for him, I would literally be on the street with nowhere to go and nothing to do. I nodded solemnly, bid him goodnight, and hurried back here to my room. It is torture, knowing others like me are so near, yet knowing I am not able to even speak to them! If not for Mr. Miller, I would be terrifically lonely.

Sleep now. I forgot to ask about going into town! But I shall send a message to the professor in the morning, or try and see him in person. Goodnight, Dear Reader!

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