Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Day 136: Lavinia, Chapter 11

She was constantly irritable. Melina avoided her. Teddy spent the majority of his time hiding in the study with his tutor, or working with their father. She felt her mother's eyes on her constantly as she stormed about their house, first picking up a book and then laying it aside, then picking up some stitching only to let it fall in her lap as she gazed out the window. She could hardly even stand to be around herself. Finally, she pulled a shawl around her shoulders and headed down the lane to visit her grandmother.

Many people found Jane Dunwell to be harsh and proud, even by the kindest of standards, but Lavinia always found her presence to be soothing and stabilizing. She was a very strong woman, with hair that was almost black, pulled into a tight knot at the back of her head. She reminded Lavinia of a bird, with her penetrating eyes and in the way that she tilted her head and moved swiftly wherever she went. Born to privilege late in the last century, Jane Wyatt married well enough to please her demanding parents--a promising officer in the British Navy, John Dunwell. But then, after only months of marriage, her young husband had died at sea, leaving her alone and expecting their first child: a boy. Lavinia had never heard her grandmother speak her late husband's name, or talk about him in any way. When she asked her, once, what he was like, Grandmother Jane had tersely replied "I don't remember. I hardly knew him."

As she walked, Lavinia wondered, again, what her Grandfather John had been like. She wondered if Jane Wyatt had loved him, when she was young. She wondered if her grandmother had forgotten, after all this time, how it felt to gaze into deep brown eyes. How it felt to be young.

She approached the door of her Grandmother's lovely, but modest, home and knocked politely. Mary, one of two servants in the house, opened the door at the familiar knock and smiled. She took Lavinia's shawl and led her into the breakfast parlor, where her Grandmother stood at the window, looking out.

Seeing Lavinia enter the room, a warm light entered her eyes, even though she did not rush forward to meet her. Lavinia was her favorite grandchild, and she always enjoyed her company. She could often sense the child's moods and whims, and was happy to be silent as she talked. "The young need to talk," she thought. Even before her granddaughter had spoken, she could sense agitation in the air around her, so she bent down and picked up a basket near her feet that had some shears in it.

"Lavinia, please go into my garden and gather some flowers for me. Peonies, please--they'll be past their peak soon, and I want to enjoy them in the house. Be careful of the forget-me-nots or you'll trample them." she instructed with authority.

Lavinia almost sighed with relief as she took the basket from her grandmother and went outside. She knew that she wouldn't have to think here, that her grandmother would give her things to occupy her mind.

Behind her, Jane Dunwell had turned back to the window and watched Lavinia's willowy figure as it moved around the garden. Something was definitely bothering the girl. She wondered if it involved James Fenwick, whom she knew that her son and his wife had been encouraging in his attentions to their daughter. Somehow, she didn't think so. James Fenwick reminded Jane of a hummingbird: flashy and appealing, but entirely unpredictable and undependable. No. She didn't think that James was a good match for her Lavinia.

But, if it wasn't James, then who?

1 comment:

JUST ME, THE MOM said...

how fun! What a great topic for a blog. Can't wait to come back to read some more. Just wandered in from Blogging Mom's. Be back soon, and I'm a very happy follower:)

Kristin