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My sister's secret.
Author's note: I had a dream where I was in the first part.
He stands in front of me the man I have no choice but to marry he is too tall and over powering. But as the priest says the last words of the ceremony I look into my new husbands eyes to see a sincere understanding, how could he possibly understand hadn’t he been in cahoots with my father? As the multitude of people file out to the reception room he pulls me back sitting me down on one of the wooden benches. “I know you didn’t want to marry me but, know this; I shall never harm you nor force you, never go against the bonds of our marriage, as long as you treat me with the same respect.” He says, his eyes boring into mine. So dark, his eyes but I see sincerity in them, I hadn’t seen in many men of the court. “I am your wife that is all, to cook, clean, and raise the children I bare for you, but I will not go against the bonds of our marriage, if that is all Mr. Collins I suggest we go to our reception.” I reply in a sharp and critical tone, as I meet his eyes I see his disappointment. What did he want? Me to say I love him, which is not true this is merely a marriage of convenience and nothing else. I stand and we go to our wedding party, which should have been a happy affair, one where we laugh and dance proclaiming our love for one another but I knew I would never have a wedding like that, because I am now married to him.
My things are packed and being sent to Mr. Collins manner, I look around my childhood room remembering mother reading fairytales to Anna and I. But they are both gone taken from me. Anna had loved Mr. Collins her whole life, and considering the great merger and money coming from the bond my father happily obliged with her consent. He promised his daughter to Sir. Collin’s son, as we grew older Anna and I dreamed of our weddings planning every detail of course we would be each other’s maids of honor. Anna at four years older than me understood our financial hardships while I at twelve merely sat by the pond reading the stories from the fairy tale book. Then cancer took mother away and neither father nor Anna was ever the same and with that my spirit died too. And now five years later Anna is gone, it happened last winter so fast the influenza took hold of her and there was nothing I could do. And then she was gone she was taken from us as she took what remained of father’s and my spirits along. I just sat and read and father never ventured from the study. That summer Mr. Collins came to our estate, why was he here? He had been at Anna’s service he knew she was gone why had he come! He stayed a few days then left us. Father called me to the dark study and said “Adilyn, you shall be married to Mr. Collins” I didn’t say anything but a single tear escaped my eye. How could they! Father and the man Anna had loved so dearly, how could they make me marry him! I ran to my room crying and wishing for Anna, for our mother, for them to still be here.
So now three months later I stand here at the door to the bedroom I once shared with Anna. With Mr. Collins ring on my left hand, Anna’s diary in my right, and grief swelling in my heart.
It’s a two-hour carriage ride to the Collins manner where I shall be residing. My hearts in agony I pray to God to see me through this for he sought me through the first two pains of my life may he see me through the next. I pull out Anna’s diary running my hand over the felt cover. I remember how she used to lay on our bed and just write with her rose covered pen. I had never been one for diaries and didn’t understand but now it’s the one thing I have left of Anna. I wear the key on a necklace always hidden behind the neck of my dress. We pull up to the big gates surrounded by a stone barrier, as the gates open I look up at the Collin’s estate there is a curve around carriage way with a small fountain in the middle. Behind there is the big manner with over ten rooms, the stables over the small hill to the left and a garden to the right. We pull up the men unloading my belongings; Mr. Collins walks out with his usual unsmiling face on “You shall have the room with the balcony over looking the garden in the East corridor” he tells me as the gentlemen help me from the carriage. “Thank you, Mr. Collins.” I reply not knowing what I am supposed to do. “You might want to go to your room and freshen up then come to the den we need to talk,” he says sternly before he makes his way towards the stables. I walk in; there is a very big staircase in the back of the high ceiling marble room. I stand there looking around suddenly a stout women comes through one of the wooden doors on the left and says, “I am Mrs. McNeal, the cook and head of staff for the Collin’s estate. You are the new Mrs. Collins I presume” I blush realizing I am the now Mrs. Collins, “Yes I am, it’s a pleasure to meet you” I reply. “Your room is up the stairs, please follow me,” she says as she turns and steps onto the first step then she ads, “The den is through the door I just came out of, Mr. Collins would like you to come there when you are settled.” We walk up the stairs and she turns right I follow suit she walks to the very last door on the hallway and opens it. “Diner is always at six, Mrs. Collins tonight we shall be having chicken, see you then.” I nod then turn to the room, the walls are a light shade of yellow the bed big with lace in white and pink. Windows on both sides on the right is a full-length mirror and the wardrobe. Then on the left a window seat over looking the garden with a small door next to it I open the door to a balcony lined with rose vines and the bathroom off the corner.
I change into a light pink dress, re pin my light brown hair and walk to the den; I open the door Mr. Collins sits there at a desk doing his work. “Hello Mrs. Collins” he says as I sit down in the felt chair sitting in front of his desk. “I hope you like your room and are well settled. I would like to discuss are stance considering the circumstances.” He ads. I look up he’s still looking at his work. “First off as towards the money, you will be allowed to shop as you wish, if anything happens to me it goes to you. Second to your place in the manner, Mrs. McNeal cooks and her staff cleans, you may lounge and venture though out the day. I only ask that you share my meals, we shall eat breakfast no later than ten, lunch at one and dinner a six. For our uh-sleeping arrangements at some point I would like at least two heirs. You shall pick when we shall have them I will not rush you just keep both are ages in mind.” He says I look up and his dark eyes are watching me. “As you wish Mr. Collins,” I reply looking back down. “Adilyn look at me,” he says as he stands and comes to kneel beside my chair. I watch him avoiding his eyes, he lifts my chin making our eyes meet and says, “I know you may never love me” I watch his eyes and see pain. “But know this I loved your sister” I think he’s done and want to say so why did you marry me! But then he ads “And one day I hope to love you” I look down not knowing what the proper thing to say is, but he stands and goes back to his chair.
We eat diner in his horrifically big dining room, its high ceiling is embroider with intricate designs and a beautiful chandelier hanging and shining light. We sit at the large table, him at one end me at the other however when Mrs. McNeal brings our food he asks her to set my place in the seat next to his, at this I look over at him and he smiles. “Please sit by me and grace me with your unique presence” he says, I stand and join him not knowing what he meant by “Unique.” “So tomorrow I have meetings but I would like us to go out to lunch, would you enjoy that?” he ads as I take my seat and nod lightly as I pick at my salad feeling awkward and out of place. He sighs noticing my attitude and says, “Adilyn, I hope someday you’ll think of the manner as your home.” I just nod again taking a small bite, suddenly he reaches out taking my chin in his large hand and making me face him he says, “And someday I hope you feel comfortable enough around me to at least engage in a conversation. A humble task in which I’ve known you to bestow on the most repulsing people, that you seem in able to bestow on me.” He then releases my face. “I will try, Mr. Collins” I reply coldly in a business like tone. He sighs as if surrendering and I pick at my food we sit and eat in silence for a while then he says, “I’d be very pleased if you would call me Daniel, may I call you Addy?” Addy! I think looking straight at him he has a mischievous gleam in his eyes only Anna and Mother ever called me Addy he knew it was special why oh why did he wish to enforce my constant misery? “You may call me Adilyn, Daniel” I reply in a tight tone then ask “May I be excused I think I’m tired from the ride today” I don’t look up at him however I can feel his gaze on me not teasing anymore but resigned “I’d actually wished to give you a tour of the garden after diner, however it may wait until tomorrow, goodnight Adilyn” He answers. I retreat to my room falling onto the bed as tears escape from my eyes. He didn’t know me! He had no right to ask to call me Addy! Why had he married me? To torment me, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt I decide drying my tears and going to run a bath considering Anna loved him and it is the Christian thing to do. After my bath I climb into the magnificent bed praying tomorrow will be better.
I wake up to a light knock on my door; I quickly adorn my robe and go to it. There stands a blonde haired woman about my age with a dress over her arm. “Hello dear, I’m Daniel’s sister Tracy oh joy I’m so glad to meet you. I’m afraid I couldn’t make it to the wedding, aren’t you just the sweetest little thing.” she spouts out in a happy tone a smile playing across her face. She flounces into the room and I shut the door not knowing what I am expected to do, this is not a subject they taught at finishing school. “Daniel had me pick out this gown for you to meet mother today, it will be absolutely beautiful with your hair and eyes.” She says laying it out on my bed; it’s a green long sleeved dress with a belt of black velvet beneath the bust and a long skirt. “We might need to tack it up a bit though, my you are quite short but so small and cute. Go ahead and get your corset on and I’ll have Mrs. McNeal fit it for you” she adds as she looks me over. I walk into the bathroom washing my face and putting on my corset. When I walk back into the room Tracy’s holding the dress out and Mrs. McNeal is opening a box with needles and pins in it. Tracy motions for me to come along and pulls the dress over my head. I look in the full-length mirror as Mrs. McNeal tacks and pins. The dress is beautiful showing my newfound curves and making my eyes shine like emeralds. Tracy then pulls me to the vanity and sits me down pinning my hair up with emerald clips and powdering my nose. Someone knocks at the door then walks in Daniel with his hand over his eyes looking very silly he asks “Is everyone decent?” me and Tracy laugh as she says “Yes brother” he takes his hand down and I hear his sharp in take of breathe and the pleased look on his face as he looks at me. Tracy smiles and says, “See brother green is definitely her color.” “You look very er.” He pauses then ads “Becoming Adilyn.” I blush looking back at the vanity mirror and smiling I do look beautiful not like a young seventeen year old girl but a woman. “Well I have to go help mother prepare the house, have fun you too. Oh and Adilyn I hope we become the best of friends.” I smile as Tracy finishes. “Me too.” I squeak out. “Well I’m off I shall see both of you at a later hour.” she ads as she bounces out of the room shutting the door I suddenly feel very awkward and busy myself making my bed. “So today you’ll be meeting my parents and brother, sorry for the late timing and for Tracy coming so early, mother just sent father to tell me to come for diner today and Tracy volunteered. You do look beautiful, you know.” He says I can hear his awkward tone and realize he also doesn’t know what to do, I soften at that and say, “Thank for the dress and the compliments, and I just hope your dear mother shall approve of me.” “She definitely will.” he says looking at me in a way that makes me blush. “So when is your meeting?” I ask, “It’s twelve o’clock you slept quite late, I’ve already had my meeting. Are you ready to go to lunch?” he asks in reply. I say, “Oh, yes I am.” “We’ll have to save my plans for lunch tell tomorrow, today we’ll be joining my parents.” We go in the carriage I don’t speak realizing I was civil to this man and resulting in being quiet. “What happened to your almost happy mood, Adilyn?” he asks, I just look out the window we come to a stop in front of a large manner on a hill over looking a lake. As we get out I see Tracy happily come out the door to meet us, taking my hands she leads me inside to the drawing room where a grand piano sits. As I turn to view the rest of the room I see an older woman and a younger looking gentleman both with blonde hair sitting on the velvet couch the woman’s lips are pinched in a look of thought, the man’s eyes are glazed with a certain sadness, as if I’m a reminder of some one he lost. In the big chair beside the couch is an elderly man with very blue eyes. “You must be Adilyn, please do si.t” the woman says motioning to the couch Tracy is occupying I join her as the woman ads, “I am Jennifer Collins, Daniel’s mother, this is my husband Arthur and Daniels brother Dolton.” “It’s a pleasure to make all of your acquaintance’s..” I reply. “So mother how is your garden?” asks Daniel entering the room his eyes instantly finding mine but I quickly look away, at her sons arrival the woman’s face forms into a sweet smile as she says, “Quite well, would you like to see?” “Yes, let us all go see mother’s garden.” says Tracy taking my arm she pulls me through the large house and out the back door where I am overcome by all the fountains and flowers lining the hill side with the lake as a background. I feel someone’s hand on my shoulder and look up to see Daniel gazing at me “Beautiful isn’t it?” he asks I merely nod my head in reply. The young man walks up, Dolton his brother and says; “You are definitely Anna’s sister… So old chap how did you find such a beautiful young girl?” he asks taking one of my hands and placing a light kiss there. “I must be lucky, but she is no girl.” Daniel replies taking my hand from his brother and holding it in the crook of his arm. “Dan, of course she’s a young girl.” His brother says then looks to me “Sweety you can’t be more than fifteen if that.” “I am seventeen, Mr. Dolton” I reply formally. His face that was quite pale before turns even whiter; “I’m sorry miss your just so small and..” he trails off. I give him a feeble smile and say, “Don’t worry about it, isn’t the mention of youth to a married woman’s age considered a compliment?” he answers my smile with a forced one of his own and says to Daniel “You have quite a girl here.” before joining his parents by one of the fountains. Daniel looks to me and says, “I know I do.” His blue eyes take mine in a intense stare, with his brown hair being slightly blown by the wind he looks like a knight from one of mother’s fairy tales. I lift a hand to push a stray piece that’s caught on his face but quickly with draw and step away walking to the fountain everyone has gathered around. How could you! I scold myself as I walk; your sister’s love not yours. “Daniel tells us you can play the piano.” Says the elderly man walking with a cane. “I personally loved it however I can no longer play with my arthritis and am afraid none of my children took it up. Would you mind playing me a tune, my dear?” he ads, and I smile remembering how father used to love to hear me play, but how did Daniel know I played?
Everyone comes to sit in the drawing room and I take the seat at the piano setting my fingers on the keys. I close my eyes for a second remembering those rainy days dad would sit in the study with me for hours and listen to me play. I decide to play the tempest I glide my fingers over the keys and the sound pours from the piano, I look to my new father in law and see his face break into a smile and suddenly my heart sobers as I finish. He gets up coming to me with his cane, I help him join me on the bench and he says, “That was beautiful my dear, I am quite glad Daniel found you.” I look up hearing his sincerity and smile.
At lunch the men talk business while Tracy informs me of a party she’s attending and Mrs. Collins gazes at me with scrutiny written across her face. We take our leave at three and are home by four, “My father is quite fond of you I’ve never seen him take to someone so fast, as are Tracy and Dolton.” I smile sincerely and he attentively reaches a hand up pushing a stray hair from my eyes his warm hand and sending a shock through me and suddenly I long for him to hold me and tell me he won’t be taken from me as Anna and mother were, a single tear drips down. And I turn not wanting to cry in front of him. I quickly climb from the carriage and go through the front door I hear him call my name but I continue until I reach my room shutting the door behind me and falling onto my bed. I cry, for an hour.
He knocks on my door than opens it without a reply “Adilyn I gave you time please dry your tears and tell me what troubles you so.” he says coming to stand beside me taking me into his arms, as more tears fall. “There, there sweetheart your okay.” We stand there he whispers endearments into my ear and I cry the last of my tears. I pull away ashamed that I let him see me cry I turn to go into the bathroom but he takes my arm pulling me back. He sits me on my bed and kneels on his knees in front of me “Tell me.” he says lifting my tear-covered face. “I just miss my family, and how my father used to listen to me play piano, I haven’t played since Anna died.” I tell him, leaving out that he is Anna’s, but I’m still scared I’ll love him. “That is one thing I have never understood of your family, you think it is wrong to be happy once someone is gone. I know at first you didn’t follow suit I saw you, you would still read that old fairy tale book and play the piano, while your father gave up, and then your sister followed suit.” He answers. Furry bubbles inside of me he had no right to speak of my family! “They didn’t give up, I would like to be alone now, Mr. Collins” I answer coldly turning from him and walking to the window, I hear him shut the door hard and suddenly more tears fall. I throw off the dress changing into my nightclothes I grab Anna’s diary and lay in bed.
Mother is gone, father acts forever in grossed in his grief, but then there is young Addy full of life reading and laughing she lights a warm glow in all the sadness that sits like fog, consuming our hearts. She is merely twelve and does not quite understand all that has happened or that is happening. Mr. Collins, I’m in love though I still call him Mr. Collins never by name, we laugh and I know I’m in love, ever since they wrote our names on the promise paper that day when I was twelve and he fourteen.
I am quite confused, Daniel is Anna’s age or the age she would be, he is merely four years older than me as she would be, not six? Well she was too happy and must of wrote wrong I think and continue.
All week I’ve been so excited for the party, I can’t wait for Addy to grow up and get to go to them. Even know she argues refusing to wear corsets and all.
We had a picnic out by the pond Addy holds so dear, he chased me and we ate berries and laughed. I’ve never been so happy, or not like this.
Father has told me, that Addy and I are to go to finishing school during the day. I know Addy will fight it she’s quite the tomboy, but it makes her, her. I admire her, to tell the truth for fighting the rules and regulations.
I know I haven’t written in months and have a lot to say, it is June now and I am. Nineteen, my how Addy has grown now a girl of fifteen she sits and plays piano for hours, refusing to go to any parties. My dear, dear Mr. Collins is going away and tells me I am to love another for he is in fear he will not return, I tell him it shall never happen but my heart aches why must they take him away?
What? I think Daniel never went anywhere, I pick the diary up to continue but see it is growing late, I lock it and hide it beneath my bed, as I drift to sleep so many questions in my head.
I wake to the sun streaming through the window, looking to the sun I can tell its barely eight, but knowing I wont go back to sleep I get up. Folding the dress I threw off yesterday and laying it in the bottom drawer, I bathe and dress in a yellow dress with white flowers embroidered along the neckline and bottom. I walk out my door and to the stairs, thinking I might find a nice book in the library, however as I walk past the den and Daniel says, “Adilyn.” in a not so happy tone. I turn and walk in seeing bags beneath his eyes he did not sleep well. “I have a lot of work to finish our lunch will have to be postponed, again.” I nod and turn to leave then he ads, “Are you to always be cold to me, Adilyn?” I look down feeling bad, “I shall treat you in the manner you treat me Mr. Collins, may I go now?” I ask. I hear a haggard sigh before he says, “As you wish.” I try to forget him walking into the library, breathing in the sweet scent of flowers on the windowsills. I pick up a Jane Austin novel my favorite to be exact “Pride and Prejudice” Anna had always said “It is as if you are Elizabeth and I Jane.” and I would reply “But I am not in search of a Mr. Darcy.” we would laugh, but I knew I wanted a love like hers one day. I read through the entire book and putting it down with a sad smile on my face. I sigh in reassignment giving up on love.