Dirty Windows

September 6, 1896
Edith Bowen

What does it mean when we know something is wrong and we do it anyway? I do not expect I will find an answer anytime soon, but it does plague my thoughts. It is not exactly guilt I feel though, I would do it again without a second thought.

Among my many responsibilities is the delivery of mail to the freshmen girls. Thus far there has been little of it but this afternoon there were two pieces both of which aroused my curiosity, but for different reasons. One was addressed to me, the other to Miss Waters.

I carried the letters to my room and sat them on my desk. I stared at them. The letter to Miss Waters rested on top and it beckoned me in a way I cannot explain. The girl is a mystery, she is stubborn and angry and she is clearly blessed with a bounty of smarts. She is so closed off it is impossible to get to know her and the letter seemed to be a window that just might offer a glimpse into who she really is.

I carefully opened it with the forethought to avoid tearing the envelope.

Dear Sarah,

It was a relief to receive word from Mrs. Carrington of your arrival and well being. I had hoped you would go there and at least follow your dreams. Mother was worried sick. I know you doubt her love for you and in fact you must doubt mine as well, but we want nothing but happiness for you. I hope you can believe that.

I am painfully aware our father would never have handled matters as I have since his passing. You would have made different choices as well and I cannot say that you would have been wrong, but I can say that I have made the decisions I have in the pursuit of the best interest of our family. You may disagree with me but surely you understand my intentions.

After you left, I decided to decline Mr. Parker’s offer of financial assistance. There was truth in your words that night. I was not prepared to hear it then but in the early morning hours it echoed with clarity in my ears. If you had only given me the night then perhaps there would be less miles between us now. We cannot change the past, however, and there is little to be gained from dwelling upon it. I only hope you will find it in your heart to forgive and to come home when you are ready.

In the meantime, I have learned the Carrington’s have a stable and their rates are comparable to the local rates for Jasper’s keep. I have arranged for Jasper to be cared for there where he will be available to you as well. It is where he belongs, with you. He should arrive on the 11th of September.

Please send word when he has arrived and also let us know if you would like to come home for the holidays. I will arrange everything and it would be good to have you here with us. We are family no matter our differences and you will always have a home here whenever you need it.

With love,

I carefully folded the letter back into its envelope. It revealed less than I hoped for but more than I wanted to know. I had felt sorry for her when she arrived, now I am not certain what I feel. For years I have missed my family and home, knowing that I can never have any of it back. Sarah Waters has chosen to turn her back on everything I desire. She decided for herself where I never had a choice. It is unfair.

The second letter was from Mr. Parker to me. I wonder if by some matter of chance the Mr. Parker referred to in Miss Waters’ letter is the same. It would be a nearly unfathomable coincidence and yet I think it is likely. There is a connection between Miss Waters and myself. I felt it the first time I laid eyes on her.

Mr. Parker’s letter was sparse on content. He intends to be in Providence next week and wishes to have dinner with me. It would be rude to refuse I think but I wonder what motivations exist beneath the surface. Somehow I doubt he would be surprised to see Sarah Waters but I think she might be to see him. Perhaps I shall arrange it, just to see what happens.

I caught Sarah in the hallway a little while later and gave her letter to her. She took it from me without a word, looked at the return address and then tore the envelope in half and then half again. She threw the shreds into a trash can and continued walking as though it was nothing at all. I could feel sorry for her, but I do not.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, Oh dear, Sarah will regret that.
Warm hugs,