Due to an unfortunate circumstance, I cannot disclose where the fascination of my chronicle is, whose it is or how I saw it. However, before I begin to tell you of the very strange events I was present at, I shall tell you something about it. Perhaps I should say them, but that would not be fully correct either as they are not living, however they are not irrelevant to life. Lives have been taken for their sake and yet any one can live without them.
Reader, I now ask you to close your eyes and see what I describe.
There they sit on their velvet couch; they smile at you, those jewels. They are not ordinary gems either. Immediately, an emerald catches your eye. It is a beautiful cold green. Next you see a ruby glittering like a sunset. You move your eye slightly and a long string of pearls ensnares your vision. An exquisite sapphire holds you for a moment. You last look upon a diamond. It is king of them all, confusingly luminous, yet calm, and quiet just the same.
This brings us to their current whereabouts, which although, reader, you might cox and whine, you shall not get it out of me. Not today.
Madeline Milton is an elegant girl of 20 with a name very common in London. She is strikingly tall for her gender. Her hair is a medium shade of dirty blond. Her eyes are a most noticeable greenish brown and sparkle when she is in high spirits. Her lips are small and a medium red. She is somewhat introverted when she is in a crowd. She has an older sister, Pamela, who is almost her complete opposite in appearance as well as temperament.
Her mother prefers her older sister Pamela. And as Madeline is not her favorite, she is often quite critical of her attributes and demeanor. She never misses an opportunity to correct her. Pamela and her mother prefer to be the center of attention, but Madeline is inclined to be a quiet observer.
Madeline is, however, her father's favorite child. As much as her mother favors her sister, her father prefers her. There was a special bond between them from the moment she was born. They had the same tastes, perspectives and sense of humor. He taught her modesty and simplicity, and she tried to give him all the joy in the world. They would often sit together for hours on end and discuss everything about life to a great level of detail. Her father would often tell her she was lovely in her simplicity. She was her father's daughter.
There are three residences that I would like to call to your notice, my reader. The first one being London, will be easier to relate than Devonshire.
London, in the winter of 1899, was just as you might expect it. London, or rather its inhabitants were living a most refined and cultured life. Society was very pleased with itself. All the women were convinced that not one of their acquaintances had looked so fine in years. The gentlemen were thoroughly assured that the hunting they enjoyed over the summer never was better and they were completely miserable to leave their country estates. Nevertheless, at the same time, the gentlemen enjoyed the claret immensely, and the ladies were delighted with everyone worthy of jealous criticism.
I lived at Belvoir Place, then, number twenty-seven. My father's genteel looking house was furnished with my mother's lavish taste. That winter my mother and sister had as much of society as they could possibly wish for and my father and I had as much as we could stand. We enjoyed a small circle of cherished friends, but a bombardment of people was rather too much for us.
I did not mind living in London then, but I had long cherished the hope of moving back to our country home. Until I was ten years old, we lived at Fairmount, my father's country estate. I loved Fairmount for the tranquility that I experienced there. The grounds were lovely with many pleasant walks to take. It was also well suited for riding my pony. Fairmount, the crown jewel in this beautiful estate was something to gaze for hours upon. My father had a wonderful library and a large collection of family portraits. It was an elegant home with every possible comfort. My mother decided that a livelier atmosphere would suit both her and my sister much better and we left for London.
In my childhood, I spent a good deal of my time at the estate next to ours, Claythorne. Claythorne, was similar to Fairmount, except it was older, much older. It also had a more intriguing history.
I had known Philip Benett for as long as I was alive. Philip was my childhood companion and lived at Claythorne, the estate next to ours. I spent many pleasant hours at Claythorne with him.
In the winter of 1899, I had not seen him since my mother uprooted our family to London. Therefore, the only recollection I will be able to furnish you with is a rather old one.
When he was a child, he had sandy brown hair, which seemed to get darker as he grew older. His face was pleasing and always ready to smile. He had dark grey eyes that were constantly changing from wistful to jovial. He was tall, but not lanky. He had remarkably deft hands. He always had a passion for helping people.
I always shared his love of knowledge. He loved to analyze people. He would often ask me, "What makes their brain work?" I would reply that I knew no more than he did. However, he had a drive for finding out. One of the great differences between us was I was content with knowing someone's character and acting accordingly; he would not only do this, but also classified people according to their behavior. I never fully understood why he did this, but I found it fascinating.
Alas, it was painful parting from my dearest friend. The last I saw of him was through the carriage window, I was looking back and I saw him in his library window waving a tiny white handkerchief.
He promised to write, and perhaps if I show you one of his letters you might have a better understanding of his character.
16 April 1890
I just received your last letter and I hope I am not late with mine. That is not a very good opening salutation, my schoolmaster would be horrified. Let him be shocked and I hope that you won't be.
Now I must make the usual inquiries after you and your family. How are you?
Next to make the normal correspondence complete, I will state the state (Ha, my friend, that was a very good joke) of affairs at my present abode. My father is in excellent health. Mrs. Monlake goes about her housekeeping duties with much vigor, as you might guess. I can safely say that every piece of silver is polished daily, since you left. In addition to these great accomplishments, every domestic within her jurisdiction and eyesight works efficiently.
Old Lampert is even more peculiar than he always was. I say, Madeline, the fellow gets queerer every day. Naming all of the flowers and trees that he has care of is one thing, but when he goes calling on his neighbors with "Blue Jay" and "Sparrow"... Then again, his father was a hatter. Allowances must be made.
The rest of my household is just the same as they always were with only one exception. My school master, Mr. Dictionare is in an exalting state of mind, as his second cousin, two or three times removed, has been made an M.P.(Member of Parliament)! We are hardly able to bear up under this great honor! Somehow, we must manage.
Goodbye Madeline, I am being summoned.
He wrote me for two years. Then his letters stopped. I imagined that he did not have any spare time away from his studies, but I always wondered.
Oh, how my head ached that night! Many sharp steel hairpins stuck in my head. My heart ached more, though. I had just received a severe scolding from my mother. At the ball we had been to, I had chosen not to dance and had crept into the library with a book. Apparently, I was a disgrace to the family name.
I carefully undid my hair and quickly washed my tear-stained face. I crawled into bed and prepared for a troubled sleep. However, to my utmost surprise, my sleep wasn't troubled that night, I even dreamed. Remarkably, I still remember the dream; this is what it was;
First, I experienced the darkness of sleep, then, the fog began to clear. I saw a large white mansion with a heavy oak door. I wanted to see the grounds, but there was something so compelling about this entrance that I instinctively opened it.
I saw a large and grand hall. There was a little boy playing jacks in a corner of the room. His face was sad and he showed no real enjoyment in the game he was playing.
I stepped closer to him and asked where I was. The little boy took to his heels and ran. I pursued him because the newness of the situation intrigued me.
I followed him through two corridors and then we came to a staircase. He sprang nimbly up the stairs. I tried to follow his example but I fell. I looked down and I noticed that a step was missing.
I continued up four more flights of stairs with the same experience, one-step was missing. When there was nowhere else the boy could go he ducked into an old storeroom.
He was fatigued and so was I. He sat down on an old box and now that he was not moving, I could judge him to be about six years of age. Then his distress intensified and tears flowed from his dark brown eyes.
I felt a deep empathy for this poor little creature. I rushed to his side and offered my handkerchief to him. He took it and flung it on the floor. He looked up at me, then picked it up, and used it.
I seated myself on the floor and smiled at the strange being. He flew straight to my arms and began weeping again. When he was somewhat calm, I said, "Who are you?"
Elmo was the brief answer I received in return. I asked him why he was crying.
"My mother is dead. You reminded me of her, she was very pretty like you."
"I am not pretty. My mother reminds me of that almost every day. She doesn't like me. I do not measure up to her standard of perfection. She is past caring for me, she wants me to turn out 'well' as a matter of pride."
"That sounds very sad. I don't know what it all means, but it sounds sad just the same," he paused, "I like you," and he finished with a slight smile.
"Thank you, you are very kind."
I talked to him a little while longer, then he slowly grew translucent, and finally faded away altogether. I never forgot that little boy.