Elizabeth Marton

From even her first sighting of him, Elizabeth strongly despises Fitzwilliam Emmerson, the silent, surly friend of Edmund Fitzwield, owner of a nearby estate. However when things take a funny turn and something more than what Miss Marton could ever have anticipated is revealed, she begins to realize
exactly how wrongly judgemental she has been, particularly concerning Mr. Emmerson's father...

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16. 16

“Elizabeth Marton-

First of all, I cannot pretend that I was not most dreadfully shocked upon receiving your sly and cunning note; I felt, in fact, queasy for a whole two hours and, for that accomplishment, I congratulate you.

 

Secondly, you deserve the truth. And please do not read this letter aloud to anybody, for only you could make me speak so readily on the subject on which I am to speak.

 

In Fitzwield’s performance of my letter, he most probably said something along the lines of 'Ophelia has not only been left money, but the control over any family marriage that takes place from now onwards'. I am certain you are at least vaguely familiar with it; I know my friend well enough to be able to suppose that he would not consider anything of that, or similar, wording to be confidential information, nor the slightest bit meaningful.

 

I must say to you now, Elizabeth, that it is, in fact, a very meaningful sentence indeed, and it would not surprise me if, later, you said that you had all along found it so. For me, at the moment, marriage is a great thing, especially where you are concerned.

 

But I beg you to stay reading, for I am not planning on pouring out my sentiments to you, no matter how much - I shall confess - I wish to do so. Instead, I would like to tell you, in as full detail as I can, who I am, a subject which you, at present, have little awareness of.

 

I was born, Elizabeth, in 1795, three-and-twenty years ago, on the last day of November. My mother, although,do not mistake me, she was delighted at her having bore a child, would probably, and secretly, rather have had a daughter; it would have matched her love and want of sexual equality a little. My father, on the other hand, a person of whom I dread to speak, adored the idea of being in possession of a son - emphasis on the possession, for it was not for the correct reasons. I will tell you now, Elizabeth, as indifferently as I can, that he instead wanted someone whom had the power to knock down my mother’s somewhat unusual views and lord over the house when he was not there, just as was his way of things. I need scarcely say, however, that I failed in his ideals for me most miserably. To him, it seemed, I spent far too much time with my mother, or with my head in a book. Seemingly I had inherited all of her personality, and none of his, but I am ashamed to say, Miss Marton, that that is not true. I did, as a matter of fact, inherit some small part of his personality, a thing which, yes, was also a piece of my late mother, but which showed up worse in my father: Pride. Pride, haughtiness, arrogance, whichever way you have of looking at it. Part of it, indeed, was down to shyness, but the rest… No. I shall not stir things up by going there.

Either way, I was never much like my father throughout my youth, never much of a manly boy. I detested all forms of gamboling (Perhaps you noticed my distaste whenever the men at Inklefields sat down to wicket) - although later, I did begin to tolerate simple cards - and I did not agree with any of his so-called ‘moral philosophies’. One day, I told my father so. I somehow found the courage (I flatter myself) to stand up to him. It was shortly after Georgia’s birth, I can recall, for I was seven at the time, and I shall never forget that day for as long as I live.

 

My father went quite mental, you see. He was drunk again, he always was; there was hardly one time when he was sober. He raged and stormed and slapped my mother so many times she actually found cause to faint. He knocked over Georgia’s cot, flung Ophelia, whom was only four, across the floor, then towered over me and began abusing me such as he had never done before. Our dear nurse was crying, I remember, pleading with him to stop. My father hurt her, too, then turned and stormed out of the house. I never saw him again and never wanted to, either.

 

Ophelia, however, was a different matter. She did something dreadful when she was nine. Father, it turned out, had been in contact with her all this time, trying to figure me out through her information. I had trusted Ophelia, trusted her even more than I had Georgia, whom was far too young to be trusted with anything. And so, Ophelia, it turned out, betrayed me. She told my father everything about me, my weaknesses, my fears, whom I loved and, even to this day, I have cause to believe that she still contacts him, despite all the harm and pain he dealt her as a child, despite my brotherly attempts to stop her.

 

And so, I learnt not to trust. I learnt how to bury my pain, my fear, underneath layers of pride and indifference. If I ever let even one emotion slip, Ophelia would go rushing to find a pen and ink. She tells our father everything, looking for ways to hurt me. That is what they want, him and her: to break me. To render me so helpless, so feeble so they can take my power, my fortune and use my influence to terrorise and control the towns, villages and families surrounding Pickely house. I am greatly afraid, though, that they have, after all these years, finally found my weakest spot.

 

And what, you may well wonder, is that? It is you, Elizabeth. It is you, and Ophelia, as of my own careless mistakes and my own wagging tongue, knows it. She will do everything and anything to insure that you are kept from me, and if I ever let one word out to he, to anybody, the true depth of my ardent affection for you, I fear my father will find out, come after us all and release his wrath upon you with the purpose of destroying me.

 

My letter to Fitzwield, however, did not say any of this, and so I beg you to remain silent on this befuddling affair for now; I shall fill in the blanks for my friend as soon as I can and see fit. It is also here where I shall interrupt myself. I worry I will only embarrass myself by confiding too much detail of my own sentiments and will tus disgust you.

 

For now, however, I bid you adieu and enclose a copy (It is one not particularly useful habit of mine always to keep a spare) of the letter which your enquiries were mostly based upon inside the envelope.

 

Yours, most apologetically,

 

Fitzwilliam Emmerson."

 

 

 

 

"My dear friend,

 

It gives me immense pain, still, to speak of my late mother, naturally, for she was a very great lady, so great, in fact, that it is a wonder that my father did not appreciate he better beyond her riches. You, Edmund, do not know the full story of my past and, in a letter where more needs to be said, I shall not give it to you. Instead, I shall tell you that my sisters are faring well, although they, too, are grieving.

 

But that is not the purpose for which this letter was written - although I am sure that my assurance of my sisters’ good welfare will give both you and your companions back home great relief. I am worried, my friend, and in great need of a confidant. You know, I am sure, for you are too clever a man not to, how I have, with an increasing level of difficulty, avoided your questions and been so very protective of my privacy over the years of our deep acquaintance, but now I find myself rendered with the inability to keep neither my dignity and head happy, nor my fear quiet for one moment longer.

 

But what is it, you may well wonder, that I am to speak to you of? Tis my own heart, for it has possibly begun to disintegrate.

 

Upon her deathbed, my mother decided that, due to her immense fiery thirst for feminism - a trait that, I will admit, I also possess - she could not bear to leave nothing at all to her eldest daughter, and so she rearranged heer will and the family contract so that Ophelia, not only has been left money, but the control over any family marriage that takes place from now onwards.

 

It is this that I am so worried about, Edmund, for you alone know what this decision means, and now even any hope of matrimony has been crushed under my sister’s boot. If it were Georgia whom had been left in control of such a thing, then matters could possibly be different, for she, at least, likes Elizabeth and would be content with me marrying for love. But, alas! It is Ophelia whom has been left in power and now - Oh, Edmund! How I despair!

 

I shall soon be sending more information - of similar content - to you, but for now, I await your reply with agitation, bid everyone at Rolands my best wishes and announce that I shall be returning to you all within just two more weeks.

 

P.S - I beg you, Edmund, to, if you are indeed plagued to read my letter of confidence aloud, not read out all of it.

 

Yours,

Etc."

 

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