The Days Of Gloria, Part 2

September 16, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

There was a bit of commotion at breakfast. I hardly paid attention as I was reviewing my physics chapter in anticipation of a test. Dr. Phallic had not actually said there would be one today but I awoke with the unshakeable feeling I needed to be prepared. Such feelings are better heeded than ignored in my experience.

Besides, the fuss revolved around one of the first years turning up missing after the night. It happened last year too. From what I was told then it was something of an annual tradition since Carrington Manor first starting housing the Primrose girls. Every year there was at least one girl who would after a few classes decide college was not for her and she would leave, usually in the middle of the night without a word to anyone. It is an odd tradition, but it seems to be a lasting one.

The girl’s disappearance would be the talk of the day if not the week or the month. Not much happens worth of such excitement and speculation at Primrose and so these mild events tend to have a life of their own until the parents send word, usually within a couple of weeks, that their daughter has arrived home safe. This time would be no different, I was certain.

I warned Penny to study her physics but she shrugged me off and engaged in the usual gossip with the younger girls. She was far more engaged in the speculation about what happened to Gloria Hill, the apparent missing student. While I admittedly do not know most of the first years, her name was familiar to me. I cannot place where I know it from but I am certain I have heard it before. Perhaps her parents know mine or something of that sort. I thought I might call mother later in the day and ask her if she knows the name.

The morning passed quickly and soon Penny and I were sitting in Dr. Phallic’s physic class taking the test I had expected. Penny gave me a sour look as the tests were laid out on our desks. I did warn her but I think that is not the reason for the look. More likely, she wants to know how I knew about the test in the first place. She would never believe me if I told her though.

Wilbur surprised us after class. He was waiting in his automobile at the bottom of the steps to Primrose Hall. He was sitting up on the back of the seat and had the top rolled down. He honked the horn and waved to us as we exited. I could not resist the smile that spread across my face and the giddy urge to wave back despite the relatively short distance between us. Penny nudged me in the side as if to tell me to drop the enthusiasm. I have the feeling she does not approve of Wilbur and I becoming acquainted any more than we all ready are.

I cannot adequately explain it, but whenever he is around I find myself a little more light hearted, a little more happy. He simply has that effect on me without trying. His hair was tangled and wind blown as usual, his goggles were lying on the dashboard covered in dust. I was happy to see him but I instantly knew he was not happy at all. His usual buoyant attitude was depressed and his customary smile was missing. Penny noticed it too.

“What’s wrong?” She asked him.

“Get in. You too Lizzie.” He said.

Penny and I shared a look of concern and then climbed inside. Wilbur sat down on the seat and put his goggles back on. He started the engine and drove us out of the college into Providence without another word.

He turned down a series of streets which seemed to be taking us closer to the ocean. Finally he turned off the road and took us along a cliff with a fantastic view of the ocean beyond. Then I saw the lavender flowers and in the distance a tree. I shuddered as I recalled the nightmare again. Wilbur stopped the car a short ways from the tree. There were a few men around but none of them were paying attention to us.

“You know this place?” Wilbur asked, looking at me.

“Yes.” I said, my voice hoarse.

“What’s the significance?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” I said.

“Explain.” He demanded.

“Bad things seem to happen here.” I said.

Wilbur nodded. He started the engine the again and turned the automobile around.

“What’s going on?” Penny asked.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” He replied.

“Why did you bring us out here?” She asked.

Wilbur remained silent and seemed to be ignoring Penny.

“Wilbur!” She shouted.

We were nearing the paved road and he stopped the automobile.

“Do you know Gloria Hill?” He asked.

I shrugged.

“She’s the first year who ran away last night.” Penny said.

“She didn’t run away.” Wilbur said.

“What do you know?” I asked.

Wilbur sighed and looked at us both.

“She killed herself.” He said.

“What?” Penny said.

I was silent.

“She went to that tree and hung herself.” Wilbur said.

“Why did you take us out there?” Penny asked sounding horrified.

“I had to know.” He said.

“Know what?” She demanded.

“If you were involved.” He said.

“You are not making any sense, Wilbur.” Penelope said.

“I don’t have time to explain right now. I’m taking you two back to Carrington Manor.” He said.

Wilbur was watching me closely and I realized he did not trust me. My reaction to the place was suspicious to him for some reason. Which in turn made him suspicious to me. What does he know and why is he keeping secrets?

He dropped us at the front steps of Carrington Manor. Even from the curb we could hear the chorus of tears from inside. Obviously word of Gloria Hill’s fate had made it around. We entered the front door and were instantly surrounded by the ill news.

“Why would she do it?” Mrs. Carrington asked to no one.

“Why did I not see it?” Edith said.

“Why do I not believe it?” I thought to myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. You have a real gift for dialogue. I must admit, I haven't been keeping up with the series in a while. I used to read it fairly often. Is this the type of streaming story-line where your writing partner doesn't know what direction you're headed and she must, often, write herself out of whatever corner you've left her in? At any rate, it was very enjoyable. I'm going to keep up with the series now. - Tom