Friday, October 30, 2015

A Character in His Own Words: Arthur Darvey

by Kathy Fischer-Brown

I am not a monster! Think what you will. Actions are not the sole basis by which a man is judged. Like anyone else, I have feelings. I experience pain, I am amused. Sometimes I act upon these feelings in ways others don't understand. But that does not make me a monster!
Once my life was pleasant. I lived at “the hall” with Mama and Papa, and my half-sister Emma. Ours was a life of ease and extravagance, and I wanted for nothing.

And then one day, he began to cast aspersions on my dear Mama. He said he had reason to believe that I, who adored him, was not his son. He said their marriage was a sham, that it had been forced upon him, and that he was legally wed to another—albeit in a tawdry Fleet Street affair, without bans or a license—and that he’d been deceived into thinking the wretched woman was dead.

It all came to a head when his meddling lackey discovered the whereabouts of this woman and her bantling girl, Anne, who, he insisted, was his child by that dubious union. Papa petitioned for a divorce, though Mama had connections of her own in high places and promised to use them. She'd drag his name and reputaion through the mud before she'd accept his conditions.

While the battle dragged on in the halls of Parliament, Mama took me to live at rundown, draughty old Wollascott CottageI loathed it there—because she, the bastard, had taken her place in my rightful home. At Esterleigh Hall…as his daughter…with all the benefits and advantages that once had been mine.

Was I wrong to feel rejected, unloved? While she—ingrate that she was—appreciated none of his largesse and went out of her way to make my father miserable. Oh, she languished—poor Anne—mourning her mother’s death, harboring ill will for our father….

Before ever setting eyes on that whore's child, I detested her. I dreamed of hurting her…and worse. Much worse. But, I ask you, I was a child then. Why should I be held accountable for childish thoughts and whishes?

I must admit I was frightful at our first meeting. I was bored. Was it my fault? The encounter was unexpected, and I was not at my best. I'd been having a bit of sport with my new bow and arrows, and a mangy cur of a stray dog. Who cares about such things, anyway? They're more of a nuisance than anything else. But she took offense. Who could have imagined a low-born chit such as she to have been endowed with a bleeding heart?

Years passed before we met again. At the masked ball at Carlisle House in February of ‘73. I must say her costume was intriguing. Arria, a Roman woman married to Claudius Paetus, a senator or some such who, having been dishonored in the eyes of the Emperor, was presented with a sword with which he was to take his own life. The story is quite fantastical. When Paetus faltered, Arria took the weapon, plunged it into her chest, and then handed it back to him with the words, "non dolet," which means, "it doesn't hurt." What rubbish! There was a painting on display at the Benjamin West, I believe. A heroic depiction of love and honor.  Quite popular among the romantic-minded...or the simple-minded. Being the dolt she is, she became infatuated. She made it herselfthe costumeout of old draperies and curtain ties, and a bolt of violet-colored silk. The color matched her eyes...such lovely eyes....

Enough of that. Let me just say it was a simple thing for us to steal away without drawing attention to ourselves. And she was far more trusting and naive than I ever expected. I was overjoyed to find her so...accommodating.

I could have killed her that night. I wanted to so intensely I could taste it. When I think of the opportunity wasted and the satisfaction postponed, I regret my hesitation most profoundly. I actually had my hands around her throat. Such a slender neck…. I could have snapped it like a twig. But I was a cat toying with a mouse. You can't imagine how the sensation empowered and invigorated me.

I do believe I frightened her, but she was too much the fool to show it or admit to it.

We met again a number of times over the next few years. She opened her soul to me. The fool. She took me into her confidence. Those moments, however, never proved auspicious.

The time will come, though. I vow on my mother’s good name. The time will come when I take my
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retribution on Lord Esterleigh’s daughter…and when I do, I will not squander the chance.

She will know then what it means to be afraid.

Non dolet, indeed!

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels and The Return of Tachlanad, her newly released epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website.