The Harrowing Estrangement Part III (Novella)

May 1853
Redlaw Mansion
William was somewhere in dark, in some place he did not recognise. He felt a little cold, and was unable to move much. He was floating somewhere, but he could not understand where he actually was. He saw that he is floating towards a light, something glowing at the end. He found himself moving towards the object, which he soon figured to be a human body. He came closer to that glowing body and saw that it is greyish pale, glowing. It was a woman, with her hair floating in the water. He slowly pushed his hands to turn her face towards him. William was scared and was getting breathless. As soon as he put his hands on her shoulder, and the figure started to turn towards him, he gasped, and took deep breath, as if someone pulled him out of water when he is drowning. He took few deep breaths, and tried to calm down. Now the images in front of his grey eyes were clear, and recognisable. He looked around him in fear, and found himself in his bed. The clock struck three down in the hall room. It was midnight, and William was dreaming.
William lied down on his bed again, and tried to sleep. But in spite of his tremendous struggle, he could not help thinking about the dream he saw moments ago. He was scared that it was Patricia who visited him in his dream; he was scared that he saw her corpse. He was scared to sleep again. He got up from his bed, and walked towards his study table. He found her notebook lying on the table. He picked the book, and went back to sit on his bed, beside the bedside lamp. He sat closer to the lamp, turned the brass knob to increase the size of flames a little, and started to look for something to read. He flipped through few pages, when he reached a story, titled “The Harrowing Estrangement”.
He read the words written below the title. He ran his fingers through the handwriting of his beloved daughter, and his ached. He felt a chill running down his spine again. He started reading the story slowly, which began like, ‘Once in a distant land of enormous beauty and riches, lived a forlorn dark soul, in the woods that were destroyed by an evil fire.’
He read the first page quickly, and then turned the pages to the one where that strange thing was written, “Thou shalt live our misery”. He was trying to think who could have done that, and what did it implying to? He could not think of anything at all. He tossed the notebook on the side table, and went back to sleep. He slept soon in a sound and undisturbed sleep.
The next morning, Martha brought breakfast into William’s room—eggs, bread, gingered-butter, and a tea. William was rested in his armchair, with the notebook in his hands, and was pondering about the dream he saw last night, and the sentence written in her notebook. He asked Martha, “Martha, do you think that someone else too touched Patricia’s books? Do you think if someone would write something nasty in her notebooks and papers to enrage her?”
Martha understood what her master asked, but she did not understand what he meant. She looked at him, puzzled, and asked, “Why, my Lord, have you come across something?”
William showed her the page in the notebook where the sentence lay carved, suspiciously, and waited for her to inspect it. Martha read the sentence, and she trembled. She feared to think that it could have been a warning from her kidnappers before the accident took place. But she could not think of anyone who could have done that; for the matter of fact, no one other than her and William ever entered in her room, as far as she recalled. But that did not take Martha’s fear away, and while giving the book back to William, she replied, “Mr Redlaw, I do not know if anyone amongst the other workers in the house would have had dared to do anything like this. Besides, I am very certain that no one, in my knowledge, entered her room.” She paused for a moment of uncertainty, and said, “However, I shall speak to them strictly, and ask for the truth.”
William nodded in acceptance, and stared at the vicious sentence again. Martha served his breakfast, and in the middle of her work, she asked him, “Could it be related to that night, by any chance?”
William looked at her, and said, “I am not sure, Martha. I must talk to Mr Tetterby about this, and ask his word. Send our gardener with a bunch of roses to their house, and tell Mr Tetterby that I wished to see him today over a cup of tea, whenever he feels comfortable. They have been immensely patient and caring at the darkest hour of our lives; I cannot thank them enough.”
Martha smiled at her master, finished preparing his tea, bowed. She left the room when she was contented that William started eating his breakfast. William ate his breakfast, and stood next to the window, and glared out of the window. He was wondering about how much the town has changed in his absence, what has been happening in the Writer’s Association. He wanted to go out of the house, and see it himself. But today, he had to meet Mr Tetterby, and thank him about everything that he had done to keep him well.
It was tea time soon, and the table was set for Mr Tetterby visit. Martha, along with the other servants was preparing tea, tobacco for their pipes, cinnamon flavoured cookies, some crisp breads and butter, all in a table next to a massive window, displaying a spectacular view of the garden. Martha was busy setting blue flowers in a small vase to complete and beautify the entire table, just then the doorbell rang.
“Ding-dong” went the large bell, and all the servants were in a hustle. One of them went to open the door and receive Mr Tetterby, and one went upstairs to inform William. Mr Tetterby waited by the table until William descended from the stairs. William joined Mr Tetterby in short. Mr Tetterby was relieved and happy to have seen William doing well. They both greeted each other, and settled down for some tea and conversations. One of the servants served them tea and some biscuits. Mr Tetterby was much pleased to sit with his friend and neighbour, like old days, and talk about the weather, the politics, and the neighbourhood over a cup of simmering English tea. When the servant was done, he left them two alone.
Mr Tetterby looked at William with a surprised and happy smile, and asked him, “How have you been doing lately, Mr Redlaw?”
William sensed his joy, and replied with a smile on his face, “I am doing much better now, Mr Tetterby. Thank you so much. How has your family been; how is Mrs Tetterby?”
Mr Tetterby looked away, and said, “Yes, they are doing well. Mrs Tetterby has been much worried about your well-being”.
William smiled, and he replied, “I am very much obliged for your concern, John, and I am much greatful to your wife, too. You have always looked after my family as your own”.
Mr Tetterby smiled, and did not say anything for that, but instead reached for his cup of tea. Looking at him, William reached for his forgotten cup of tea too. They both sipped the tea, and looked out of the window. There was a moment of pause. John wondered if it would be right on his account to mention about Patricia now; he was concerned that it would upset William. William cleared his throat to break the silence, trying to remember something to speak. He remembered about her notebook, and wanted to talk to John about it. He kept the teacup aside, and took the notebook out of his coat-pocket. Mr Tetterby looked at the book, and was puzzled. For a moment he assumed that William would just start writing, totally neglecting him. But William flipped through the pages, and spoke, “John, there is something I need to show you; it’s Patricia’s. I found it lying on the ground in her room along with her white quill.”
Mr Tetterby kept his teacup aside, and looked in the notebook, clueless. William explained, “Observe the last few written pages; they are awfully miswritten, and jumbled. That has been worrying me. Why would she write something like this? What does it signify?”
Mr Tetterby looks at the pages, and he comes to the mysterious sentence in the end of a tattered and ink-spilled page, ‘Thou shalt live our misery’.
Mr Tetterby scratched his eyebrows, and asked William, “Are you going to tell the Inspector about this? This might help them to find her”.
William nodded his head in disapproval, he said, “If people from the Writers’ Association come to learn about this, they would call my daughter a lunatic. I cannot bear it, John”.
Mr Tetterby understood William’s concern, he said, after a pause, “What do you want to do then?”
“Martha suggested me to finish her work, as this is our sole source of clues. I think I shall observe her writing and finish what she had left unfinished. Maybe that’s what she would have expected from me”
“Then do it,” said Mr Tetterby, “then do just what Martha has suggested. Finish her work, and try to look for the answers yourself”.
William reached for his cup of tea, and remained silent for a long moment. Mr Tetterby was assured that William would do just that, write the remaining of The Harrowing Estrangement. He placed the notebook on the table, and sipped his tea, looking out of the window.


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