Feb. 12th, 2008

mistressmaryquitecontrary: (coatmary)
The girl who leaves Misselthwaite Manor in January of nineteen-aught-seven has changed a good deal from the one who arrived there two years ago. She’s taller now, and while still gawky, less angular and stick-thin; her clothes aren’t mourning black, but plain sensible blue, and longer, as befits her more grown-up status.

However, anyone who’d seen her on that day two years ago would note that the expression she’s wearing now is nearly identical to the one she wore then.

She doesn’t want to be going; she doesn’t expect much when she gets there; and if she’s homesick, or worried, or nervous of what’s to come, there is no way on this earth she’s going to show it.

****

Tall, thin, and precisely correct in every point except for the little mottled furry dog that flings itself around her feet, the headmistress greets Miss Lennox and sends a maid to direct her to her room. The footman, she tells her, will follow with the trunks. She allows a pause for tearful goodbyes; there are, of course, none.

****

“I’m Lottie,” says Mary’s new roommate, with a friendly smile. She’s plumpish and bright-eyed, and wears her hair in two long pigtailed curls. “My father’s Lord Wiscombe.”

“I am Mary Lennox. My father was Captain Lennox,” Mary says, “in India.” She adds this last part out of a recollection that it had a good effect on Colin. She can talk about India; she knows how to do that.

Lottie, however, apparently lacks Colin’s interest in the foreign. Instead, “Anne Tatham used to have your bed,” she announces. “She fell ill with the pneumonia so she had to go home, but we’re going to write each other every day, without fail. We sincerely swore it. We’re bosom friends – like sisters. I shall miss her dreadfully.”

While Lottie talks, two footmen enter with the trunks and set them down next to the bed. Neither girl pays them the least attention.

Mary has the feeling she’s expected to say something. “My best friend is Dickon,” she volunteers.

Lottie blinks. “What a peculiar name. Who are his parents?”

“It’s a Yorkshire name,” Mary says, stiffly. “His mother’s name is Susan Sowerby.” She doesn’t know Dickon’s father’s name; she’s never asked.

“Oh,” Lottie says, after a moment to assimilate. It’s a very telling ‘oh’.

It’s best to set matters straight at the outset.

Mary looks at Lottie and says, with perfect matter-of-factness, “You ought to know that if you say a word about Dickon, I’ll bite your nose off.”

She gets some satisfaction out of seeing Lottie's eyes widen before she turns around and starts to unpack.

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mistressmaryquitecontrary

January 2012

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