Thursday, 15 September 2016

Girl Reading Letter

I've done it now and it cannot be undone.
Moments ago I feverishly broke the seal with trembling hands and read the note intended for Aunt and the letter concealed within for Louisa, my fair cousin who set tongues wagging barely two months past.
Oh, if I hadn't recognised Mr. Davis' hand! For in that instant I acted with no thought, though I had the presence of mind to read it by the window in the parlour where the light is better. And it contained such impassioned words I've never seen, only heard from Louisa's lips. After, I re-read it then crushed his anointed letter to my chest and kissed those inked-smudged words as if I was the addressed: My Sweet Girl.
If she wasn't named as christened, I could be she. The one he missed, the one he longed to have by his side, even though she had caused sorrow by refusing him and consenting to their separation. A love match that couldn't be for he had no fortune and neither did she.
Star-crossed. And the stuff that dreams are made of to a thirteen year old girl. How could I not read?! For the forbiddingness of it was part of the intrigue. I was in raptures until I realised the enormity of what I'd done. And that what I was experiencing was a lie. I was not Louisa and I had trespassed, almost knowingly for my subconscious must have known when I snatched the letter from the salver. I had had my suspicions it had not ended for Louisa has been pensive, and unusually dismissive of mine and Mabel's enactments of Shakespeare's comedies, whereas previously she would have gotten involved, as did Mr. Davis when he was a friend of the house.
The spirit has gone out of her since his departure. Now I know why: she's waiting for a reply, as well as answers to questions she would have put for she always asks a great many, and is never satisfied. Her remarks in return can be biting! More so lately when she stirs herself to respond, which since her hopes have been dashed can take a while. Her attention fixed inwards or on a spot which nobody understands why it's so interesting.
But for all that I'm jealous. Jealous of what she had and what she lost. Even her abandonment and her pitiable state seems romantic to a young girl. She has someone to swoon and cry over. Oh, if that were me! To be lovesick! She doesn't play the part as I would to the outward eye, though I am surprised by this revelation of her clandestine nature. I didn't think she had it in her, for she made no attempt to hide her growing attachment when no engagement had been declared. And then when it was and the match was disapproved, she discredited her lover dutifully and without much emotion.
I underestimated, as did others, the strength of her feelings which the letter in my hand testifies to, though these moods have been more evident lately, and yet my compassion remains displaced: all for Mr. Davis and none for her. She does not deserve him! He has been treated cruelly in this affair. How can he still correspond? And how many weeks has this arrangement gone on and at who’s instigation? Louisa's, I wager.
I love my cousin, but the confusion she wreaks!
This won't end well, with or without my meddling. Do I confess to my aunt, or do I elicit the help of the kitchen maid? There must be some way to disguise my nosey act...but then the secret would be out. But oh, the burning guilt if I do not tell a soul. I will surely be discovered! Unless I destroy these crumpled, tear-stained pages...
Hark, is that the footsteps of my aunt I hear? The same impulse, as before, now overtakes me and makes me tear the precious letter into pieces to fling, like a bird released, through the open window, to flutter in the breeze.
Be gone! My Sweet Girl. My Dearest John.

Picture credit: Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window by Johannes Vermeer