A Letter Not Written and the Unburdening of a Heart

Dear Reader, I am such a horrid girl! I have not yet written to Miss P___ and Maggie and all the girls at Saint Anne's! I should have arrived at my destination--here, really--several days ago, had I stayed on the train as was intended. I shudder to think that they've been worrying about me all this time

As I know a letter will take some time to reach them, I have sent a message into town with the cook's girl this morning, to be sent by wire, telling them only that I have arrived safely, though a bit past schedule, and that a more detailed letter will be coming soon. I shall sit down to write it now.


I have had several false starts with the letter. How, exactly, does one relate to one's friends and benefactors that one has been kidnapped by airship pirates, rescued by living legends, then learned that one's entire self-history is false, and conclude by saying one is now, suddenly, Illuminated and doing amazing things which one can tell no one about.

That was a lot of ones.

I know I cannot divulge the secret of my heritage, neither about my parents and my name, nor about my Gift. This pains me greatly, but I would never wish to put Miss P___ and the girls in any sort of danger. Indeed, Professor Eberhart has insisted I continue to call myself "Miss Greenwater" for all intents and purposes.

Yesterday on our evening walk, I started to tell Mr. Miller all that the professor had revealed to me, having been simply bursting to pour it out to someone, but them I remembered I was not allowed and stopped abruptly. I am afraid I rather confused the poor man, and possibly hurt his feelings, but I insisted I would tell him if I was able, and hoped to be able to very soon. That very night I asked the professor, first thing at our lesson.

"We do not know this man, Miss Gardener." (I wish he would not call me by that name, as I am afraid I shall slip one of these days and call myself by it as well, but it is my true name, and I suppose I shall have to get used to it someday.)

"He is my friend," I said.

"Because he kidnapped you, and took you for walks on a mercenary dirigible for a few days?" His mechanical eye whirred as he looked up at me.

I blushed, but persevered. "He deserted them, didn't he?" I asked, raising my chin. "And anyway, whom could he tell?"

"Any number of people. You know yourself that he can communicate perfectly well through the written word."

How could I let Professor Eberhart know how well I trusted Mr. Miller? It was really more of a feeling than anything I could put into words, and I did not think the professor put much stock in feelings.

My sadness and frustration must have shown on my face, however, for he said with a sigh, "Send him in here. I shall speak to him."

Delighted, I hurried back down the many staircases and corridors, the path I have learned well these past few days, and right to Mr. Miller's room where I knocked eagerly. He opened the door a moment later, a book in his hand (I had convinced him, finally, to visit the school library and was glad to see he was enjoying himself due to his trip there) and his neck cloth missing. "Oh!" I said upon seeing him. "Um, good evening. Professor Eberhart has... has asked to..." He must have realized how I kept glancing down at the scar on his throat every half second--though I did mean not to!--for he quickly turned his back on me and went into his dimly-lit room to retrieve his neck cloth from the nightstand. He did not turn to face me again until he had it securely tied, the tails tucked into the collar of his shirt.

"Please excuse the intrusion," I said, and gave a slight curtsey, still standing in the doorway and feeling quite awkward now that I had made him feel awkward. "Professor Eberhart would like to see you." He nodded and stepped out into the hall with me, then closed and locked his door after himself, dropping the key into one of the many pockets in his trousers. We walked for a moment in silence, then he touched my arm to get my attention and gave me a slightly worried look.

"Oh no, everything's fine," I told him, and he looked relieved. "Do you remember when I started telling you something earlier, but said I had to stop?" He nodded. "It's about that. About... letting me tell you. Oh dear," I said, and frowned. "I suppose I oughtn't to have told you that, either, for now you know the professor is involved with it."

Again he touched my arm, and again had a worried expression, though there was softness in his eyes, a question. "Of course I trust you," I told him. "You'll just have to convince the professor that he can trust you, as well."

We said no more as we continued up to Professor Eberhart's office. I knocked, then opened the door for both of us, but the professor bid me wait outside. Apparently he intended to interrogate Mr. Miller alone. Once the door closed, I paced for a while, then stood and stared at the door, through which I could hear nothing. (Yes, I did try, to my shame.) When it finally opened again, I was leaning against the opposite wall about to nod off, but was wide awake in an instant when I saw Mr. Miller step out. He looked neither excited nor disappointed, but before I could ask him how it went, he nodded, gave me a small smile, then hurried away. The professor called me from inside his office and said we were to resume our lessons.

(I do wonder what was said to convince Professor Eberhart! But as long as he said yes, I shall not mention it again. The gift of his trust of Mr. Miller is enough.)

I did passably well moving the water--or rather, making it move on its own, with me guiding it--but right now I am so thoroughly sick of the subject, I cannot write about it. I pushed and pushed myself last night and do not wish to dwell on it any longer.

Lunch now! Goodness, how time gets away! I became very sidetracked; I had intended this morning to write my letter to the girls at Saint Anne's! Later, later!


To finish my tale, as briefly as possible: I did not see Mr. Miller again last night after my lesson, but after breakfast this morning, we took our usual walk and I told him all. When we had circled the grounds twice and were too cold to continue our walk, we returned to the parlour so I could finish the tale of my parents and the Libertists; not only that, but I told him of Saint Anne's, and Maggie, and Miss P___ and Father D___, about how I thought my parents would be and how it turned out they really were, about the orphanage itself and the town I grew up in, and a great many other things. When the clock struck eleven, I jumped up and excused myself, embarrassed at having rambled on for so long. I suppose that is why lunch at one o'clock seemed to come so quickly; I was not in my room alone for much time.

But lunch was perfectly pleasant, though quiet, since I had nearly worn my throat out with talking! Perhaps instead of taking our walk this evening before supper, I shall ask Mr. Miller to write out things of his own life so it feels rather more even.

Until then, I simply must get this letter written and ready to send with the cook's girl tomorrow morning. I don't know what I can possibly put in it that will not shock and worry them all! If I tell about Bellclaire and his crew, I shall have to tell the reason they kidnapped me, which has to do with my Illumination, which I cannot mention. And I would so dearly love to tell Maggie, especially, about meeting Jack Winters (oh blast it all! I should've taken an image capture of the two of us for her! oh, woe!), but I cannot tell about that without telling of the pirates, and so on and so on. Perhaps.... I do hate to lie, but it seems the only way! I suppose I must say that I remained on the Arabella Genevieve all this time, and that it was delayed for... Hmm, for reasons which I do not know, as I do not understand trains. Yes, I can say it was broken down for a few days.

Oh, my. Perhaps once this "conflict" is resolved, I shall be able to tell Maggie and Miss P___ and all the others the truth about my family and my Illumination and all the rest. Until then, I suppose I must settle for pleasant untruths.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bernice, do be a bit more skeptical! I am concerned for you because I do not yet trust Professor Eberhart. There is something...a little bit manipulative about him.

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