Letters. Real letters. Sealed with a red wax circle, a gummed envelope, or simply stapled shut, how I adore the letters I’ve received in my life.
I used to keep them in a cedar box. Then I moved them to the cardboard boxes copy paper comes in. The ones most special to me lie bound with satin ribbon in a wicker basket at the foot of my bed. Emails, telephone messages, texts cannot come close to the joy which letters provide.
So I can sympathize completely with Lucy’s joy at receiving a promised letter from John Bretton. It’s not enough that she’s alone, at Madame Beck’s, with no family to speak of; she doesn’t even have a man to call her own. So when the letter from him arrives, and Charlotte spends more than several pages writing about it, I understand its significance.
I took my letter, trembling with sweet impatience; I broke its seal.
‘Will it be long-will it be short?’ thought I, passing my hand across my eyes to dissipate the silvery dimness of a suave, south wind shower.
It was long.
‘Will it be cool? Will it be kind?’
It was kind.
To my checked, bridled, disciplined expectation, it seemed very kind; to my longing and famished thought it seemed, perhaps, kinder than it was.So little had I hoped, so much had I feared; there was a fullness of delight in this taste of fruition-such, perhaps, as many a human being passes through life without ever knowing. The poor English teacher in the frosty garret, reading by a dim candle guttering in the wintry air, a letter simply good-natured–nothing more: though that good-nature then seemed to me god-like–was happier than most queens in palaces.
What I don’t understand is the image of a nun which sends Lucy fleeing from the room. Such an apparition has wrought a terrible fright within her. And what, exactly, is she seeing? It is a figment of her imagination? Is it a haunting? Is it a person with ill intent? Whatever the case may be, this ‘nun’ follows Lucy, at least in her mind, on several more occasions.
Something in that vast solitary garret sounded strangely. Most surely and certainly I heard, as it seemed, a stealthy foot on that floor: a sort of gliding out from the direction of the black recess haunted by the malefactor cloaks. I turned: my light was dim; the room was long–but, as I live! I saw in the middle of that ghostly chamber a figure all black or white; the skirts straight, narrow, black; the head bandaged, veiled, white.
Say what you will, reader–tell me I was nervous or mad; affirm that I was unsettled by the excitement of that letter; declare that I dreamed: this I vow–I saw there–in that room–on that night–an image like–a NUN.
Find more thoughts, and links to reviews, of Week 4 here.